And just like that, summer is over. We knew it was coming, but that definitive moment, when you look at a tomato and think, I’ve had enough had not yet come. But it always comes. At the height of summer, I think I can never get enough tomatoes, and then one day, I have. It has something to do with a turn in the weather, being saturated by a particular food, and the fact that all food has a peak time for eating.
On Sunday night, I served the kids gazpacho, the soup they could not get enough of all summer long, and they took one slurp, made that face, and rejected it. It didn’t taste right, they said. And they were right. Though still abundant, the tomatoes are no longer at their peak, and there’s something less satisfying about facing them on a cool fall night. There is no longer harmony between the things of summer and our table. Then, yesterday, there was the matter of the peaches, which were still in the market on Sunday, and I sampled them, but the ones I brought home, though ripe, were dry. I tried to bake them with amaretti cookies, brown sugar, and butter, but even then, the texture was mealy.
Yesterday, it rained, soccer was canceled, and while the kids built things, I roasted: tomatoes (to freeze) , squash, carrots, fennel, raddichio, a pork tenderloin. Today it’s sunny; tomorrow it will rain again. Bracketed by this damp weather, I’m thinking about transition food. It’s the food that takes us into the heart of winter. It’s warm and comforting, but is just shy of the roasts and stews and gravys that we eat when it’s really cold (okay, cold for me). I’m thinking warm and colorful; earthy but not too bright; satisfying but not too heavy. In other words, not unlike my fall sweaters.
To wit, I have on hand apples and sausages, beef for the likely return of picadillo, a bin full of leafy greens to sautee and cream, carrots, fennel, chops, makings for quiche, roasted tomatoes, roasted peppers, winter squash, fixings for warm soups, and pastas.
Tonight I plan to pull out the rest of the pork tenderloin (which was marinated in mustard, red wine vinegar, honey, and fennel), chop it roughly and serve it in warm flatbread, maybe with some roasted peppers, kale crisps, and butternut squash on the side.
In other words, we’re getting ready. But since I generally find transitions unsettling, I’d love to know: What are your favorite fall dishes, and how do you welcome the cool weather to your table?