Foraging for food. Menu del dia. Fried green tomatoes and gallipiernas

I thought I would write a post about waiting for the rain to come. It has come with its usual torrential downpours through the night and the day. After some frantic wood pile sorting it paid off as we had our first fire. But now it is warm again and the sun is shining with that particular brightness of Anda Lucia. Land of light.

My attempt at a winter veg garden might just work. There is now so much moisture in the air. It seems Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and onions are good, and of course there’s time to grow some more lettuce. I’ve also tried some beetroot. My once hated vegetable from memories of a cold vinegary slice for school dinners. Now I like it in soups thanks to a friend’s recipes. However I am going to have to find ways of using the green tomatoes. It is too late now for this batch to ripen and the rain affects them badly. Fried green tomatoes was suggested. That was such a good film. 


Today has been the first sun after the rain and I have gone out to check on everything, especially the chestnuts. Some have fallen but although it had been dry I have been able to collect some good sized ones from the ground. I have a love hate relationship with chestnuts but at first it is fun to find the bright brown shiny shapes. However I will be lucky to get a euro for a kg even though they can sell at 6 euros or more. I bought some small cooked Chinese chestnuts in the supermarket the other week; a case of coals to Newcastle or chestnuts to the Sierra Aracena. Unfortunately the phrase doesn’t work too well for Newcastle as coal there has become a product of the past.



Sometimes the joy of picking up chestnuts is the fragile Autumn crocus shining from the ground. The damp ground has also produced a lot of mushrooms. This is the time when folk come foraging for the famous wild mushroom varieties of the Sierra. These are the gallipierna, with their beautiful parasols.


So for our meal this evening I will perhaps have the following.

Menu del dia

Primera plato Fried green tomatoes and gallipierna

Segunda plato. Chestnut loaf and salad 

Postre.  Quince tart

All in a days foraging!

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Bob Dylan tribute. Dverse Poetry Prompt. To an Artist

This post is a poem in response to the prompt by Dverse poets to celebrate Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Dverse poets.com is the link to find a range of ideas about writing poetry, with good poems to read and stimulating prompts.

A very good friend of ours had some of the lyrics below on a t shirt. We knew it was from a Bob Dylan song but which one. So we went back to our Bob Dylan lyrics book and found it. Bob Dylan’s words and music are truly everywhere even up in our Spanish Sierra on a tee shirt!
‘She’s got everything she needs
She’s an artist, she don’t look back
She’s got everything she needs
She’s an artist, she don’t look back
She can take the dark out of the nighttime
And paint the daytime black’.       Bob Dylan

 

The poem I’ve written is about a very special woman; an artist, woodworker, seeker and above all friend who I have been so fortunate to meet in my life in the Sierra.

Thanks to Dverse and Bob Dylan for inspiring me to put these words together ( and perhaps the t shirt that didn’t acknowledge Bob’s words!)

Painting our lives with the colours of light

Light plays with the trees at the dawn of dusk
She plays with the light in the colours she sees
Sepia wizened trunks with wise worn faces
She’s an artist

Touch of colour at the tip of a brush blends the years
Into the tones of the falling leaves she sees
Wise eyes lighten the cares and fears.
She don’t look back.

A garden of brightness, an orchard of fruit fallness,
A home all in one and a bed built up high,
To rise up through the darkness with a calm wry smile.
She’s got everything she needs.
She’s an artist, she don’t look back.

image

Warbler of some kind by Ruth Konigsberger
Warbler of some kind by Ruth Konigsberger

 

The photographs are some of her work.

Peep through my inner trunk, all hollowed out with age Adorned with velvet
Peep through my inner
trunk, all hollowed out with age
Adorned with velvet

Faial and Pico. Volcanic island Vacations

To arrive on the island of Faial in the Azores archipelago of nine islands you have to fly or take a very long boat ride.The low carbon emission way would be to sail there. For a land lubber like me who suffers from sea sickness it’s not an option. For those who live on the islands aeroplanes have brought prosperity and may just have halted total environmental degradation of the islands. Ironic , perhaps but tourism is now both important for the economy and for the natural protections needed. Marine research is also based here.

Ahh, there we are. Pico's peak. All in a cloud change.
Ahh, there we are. Pico’s peak. All in a cloud change.

Whale watching instead of whale hunting brings a different kind of work.  EU support for restoration of biodiversity has also brought an end to the total decline of the very special island flora and fauna. It’s a fascinating place for botanists, marine biologists, and all those who love the sea, islands and the power of nature. To be honest, nature needs us to visit and help nurture all these projects as well as the people on these far off islands.

In the mid Atlantic these islands have  been formed from activity deep within the earth along the tectonic plates of the American and European continents. The last volcanic eruption on Faial was in 1958 and there was an earthquake in 1998 which caused damage. On our first full day on Faial and staying in the main town and trans Atlantic sailing harbour of Horta we were taken on a tour of the island by Alda from a local travel firm. As we had not hired a car we took a tour with her. She had grown up in the valley of Flamengos and showed us the local church that had been finally rebuilt after the earthquake. Her mother remembered the volcanic explosions in 1958. We visited the new volcanic land of Capellinos with her.

We also met an American Azorean whose family had left because of the destruction of their town on the North West of the island. His father had hunted whales and it had been the main industry there. 50 years or more later, his son, who was two when the volcano erupted,has returned. He helps tourists understand some of the many innovative projects that have been a part of Faial’s history; such as the transatlantic cables laid down across the ocean.

Tiles in memory of the victims of the Capelinhos volcanic eruption.
Tiles in memory of the victims of the Capelinhos volcanic eruption.

The capital Horta has been a very cosmopolitan place and welcoming port. Sailing and Peter’s cafe are part of the maritime history as well as the whaling museums of the whale hunting past.

A sailing tradition for good luck before sailing on from Horta. Paintings of boats are all over the harbour walls and floors.
A sailing tradition for good luck before sailing on from Horta. Paintings of boats are all over the harbour walls and floors.

The colonisation of these islands by the Portuguese navigators and explorers means that we were welcomed to Europe on one of its furthest points west. For me the islands are a microcosm of our recent colonial histories. All nine islands were discovered by the Portuguese from the 1400s. All were forested and had probably been undisturbed for millenia.

The birds, wind and sea had brought plant and other forms of life to these islands. Human beings brought axes and civilisation.The native forests were cut back and the rich brought exotic plants such as hydrangeas which were used as new hedges. Many types of farming have been tried.

Individual vegetable plots with high hedges to protect plants from the sea salt and wind.
Individual vegetable plots with high hedges to protect plants from the sea salt and wind.
Park in Horta with enmic Draco tree in background and the ubiquitous introduced hydrangea. Blue on iron filled soil.
Park in Horta with endemic Draco tree in background and the ubiquitous introduced hydrangea. Blue on iron filled soil.

Monoculture farming has had and is having its impact. There have been orange plantations but a disease destroyed those and at present it is mainly dairy! There have been changes and for many of the islands it has been tough surviving in these island paradises. But it has also been tough on the unique plants and creatures that first inhabited these islands and evolved here.

Imported Cow culture under endemic juniper tree .Each island produces tasty cheese for export.
Imported Cow culture under endemic juniper tree .Each island produces tasty cheese for export.

Can responsible tourism help restore the biodiversity and be sustainable? I think those who live on the islands would welcome this. Certainly we found everyone there very welcoming.

I shall try and create a series of posts about our trip to Faial and link in with our visit to San Miguel from last January . It was certainly a very welcome break and the beauty of Pico and Faial haunt us. We would like to return.