Tuesday, January 24, 2012

More frosty stuff

Ajuga, ivy, Japanese anemone, plantain, chestnut.

I ate a pennywort leaf today.  It tasted like a rather musty leafy green leaf from a plant in a wall.  I can see why it hasn't become a wild-food must-taste menu item.  Or perhaps it has.

The frost seems a long time ago now.

(The photo above reminded me of a Roman tile from the museum of Verulamium at St Albans, near where I grew up.  The tile had a two thousand year old dog paw print in it, and a stone which, one imagined, was thrown at the dog two thousand years ago to get it off the wet clay tiles.  I haven't searched the website yet to see if it appears there...)


Rosie said...

all warm again now...the wood stoves won't draw properly.
I quite fancy some snow myself.

herhimnbryn said...

Frost, frost, please send me some frost!
We are having days of 40-42 degrees and nights of 25-26.....please send frost.

the polish chick said...

love your new banner, lucy; it gives me hope.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Try as I may, as beautiful as you photos are, I still prefer the warmth.

Plutarch said...

I like the way the frost seems to grow of the leaves like stalagmites or hair or some sort of fungus. Just water crystals forming in the air.

Anne said...

I don't think our frost is as delicate and prettily arranged as yours. Too bad about the wallish taste of the pennywort.

Crafty Green Poet said...

ah frost is so beautiful, except perhaps when its on pavements that you are trying to walk on!

Lovely photos though,

earlybird said...

brrrr! I love the sharp fuzziness of frost and the way it's different on different leaves. Lovely observations.

Shame about the pennywort!

Lorenzo da Ponte said...

"ate a pennywort leaf". It sets rolling a whole train of reminiscence. I am not a fan of very floppy lettuce even though this means I do not qualify as a gastronome; only people with crude palates prefer the snap, crackle and pop of iceberg (a taste shaped by our years in the US). Inevitably floppy lettuce crops up, usually as a side-dish in restaurants, and I'll eat a leaf or two, trying to assume that sense of anticipation you must have experienced with the pennywort. What was it, I ask myself, that convinced the earliest lettuce experimentalists that these leaves were not only edible but desirably edible? And of course such experiments wouldn't have ended with lettuces, others must have tried grass but probably stopped short of holly leaves. The greatest mystery of all are the palates that identified dandelion as a desirable salad component; as a child I always regarded its bitterness as positively toxic. I am told that only the younger leaves are used but the childhood memory is too strong for me to overcome.

I salute your curiosity and - to a lesser extent - your courage.

Isabelle said...

Frost? It's quite mild here. Brrr. Beautiful pictures, though, as long as the frost isn't on one's own person.

Lucy said...

Thank you people.

The pattern of the frost on the leaves, with regard to Plutarch's comment of water in the air, leads me to wonder if it is not something to do with the patterns of the stomata(?) on the leaves and where they transpire from.

This frost, despite looking so thick, was not too hard, and didn't render the roads or pavements too hazardous.

Floppy lettuce and bitter tastes. We like crunchy lettuce; iceberg is hard to come by here (I remember being introduced to it in Germany, when I was a teenager), but I'm particularly fond of scarole (not sure if this counts as a lettuce or even what it's called in English), which is crunchy in a different way. Its disadvantage is that it is a) more than twice the price of any other lettuce and b) has something of a bitter back taste, so Tom gets difficult about it. He is resistant to bitter flavours of any kind, including in turnips, swedes, and even some baked goods made with some kinds of wholewheat flour. I regard this kind of anti-bitter fussiness as rather annoying and childish. I have heard that children's sensitivity to and rejection of bitter tastes, which it seems is genuinely stronger than that of adults, and which makes it so bloody difficult to get anything green inside a child (except for their own nasal secretions that is) is an atavistic evolutionary function to protect them from poisons in plants. However it can be grown/trained out of, and French youngsters clearly grow out if it sooner and more readily than English ones. This must be because there is some nationalistic imperative for them to eat drink strong coffee-sans-milk-or-sugar as early as possible. My English step-grandchildren are apparently still gagging on green beans and even frozen peas at the onset of adolescence while their French contemporaries of my acquaintance are happily gorging on endives, artichokes and scarole to say nothing of black chocolate with zero sugar or milk content.

For myself, I was consciously and independently schooling myself into accepting bitter flavours from quite a young age, weaning myself off sugar in tea and coffee and learning to love greens of all kinds, long before I could cope with the acidic pickled gherkins and onions or even mayonnaise which I craved but found unpalatable, and which I have only really learned to eat with any pleasure in the last few years. Tom on the other hand can suck lemons with gusto and ruins many a sandwich with lashings of piccalilli.

Having said all this, I just remembered walnuts, which often taste unpleasantly bitter to me but not to him. And I still can't be doing with black chocolate, it's supposed to be a sweet for heaven's sake.

For all that, however much I try, I can't eat dandelion leaves with any enjoyment either. They are supposed to be blanched I think, but even so. On the occasions I have managed to swallow them heavily counterbalanced with other flavours, I have found their diuretic effects have not been exaggerated.

The one really good use for floppy lettuce leaves is to wrap around hot spring rolls (nems) with a sprig of mint to use as a kind of edible oven glove to dip them in sauce. Otherwise we eat the red 'feuille de chene' type which redeems and justifies itself by at least being a pretty colour.

I reckon that probably should have had a post to itself, really.

Lorenzo da Ponte said...

One imagines one has combed and re-combed one's life and preferences and then - out of left field - comes another variant. I find it impossible to believe that in six years of blogging you've never done Lucy and The Bitter Tendency ("Intense" The Times, "Radical" Libération, "Recondite" La Prensa) but the fact is you may have done it, albeit in pieces scattered down the years.

Needless to say I have an agenda in all this. In digging out these neo-madeleines I am gradually accumulating sufficient responses to enable the LdPs to sit down at a virtual yet authentic feast with you (with virtual conversation) without your having to stir from Brittany. And this data has, as it were, taken an unexpected twist. At this virtual feast will be a virtual version of Tom whose hologram has become more and more lifelike as you've sought to balance out yourself with rewarding, yet often contrary, data about the man who, above all things, knows how to use a walking stick.

Who needs Thomas Cook?

No response expected.

Lucy said...

Only I must correct a detail: it was/is an umbrella. I have tried to persuade him to adopt a rustic forked stick that comes to shoulder height, we even have one with the bark still on and a handle fashioned from some bit of a deer's antler or similar, as being sufficiently rugged and manly and not an old person's thing (I walk with one sometimes over rough terrain), but no. An umbrella, however, is urban(e) enough and also has other reasons to be, vis fending off aggressive dogs (especially when opened in their faces) and keeping the rain off, so is therefore admissible.

Lorenzo da Ponte said...

Argghhh! What a faux pas. Walking-stick man comes from the shires, retired Grenadier Guards, thinks Cameron is a shilly-shallier, wants to bring back hanging, drawing and quartering. Umbrella man is moody, sombrely contemplative, speaks only in brief epigrams, drank absinthe once in his youth. Only mistaking Tom's gender would have been worse.

Definitely no re-comment.