Friday, June 27, 2008

Spring's last breath

Spring is through. I always wish I could push back the doors on that season. I am never sorry to see winter collapsing into the ground before me, always relieved to know a new start is on the way. Is it ever hard to see your new start heading south, huh? All of a sudden, we are in full-bore vegetable crop maintenance, bargaining with the Gods of good green growth to end the eight kinds of pestilence we have already fought since the planting started, and wishing like hell we could hang on to everything about spring: The smell of young, newly cut grass. The nip in the air as you tuck your jacket close to your neck in the evening, knowing full well it may be the last time for a while that you will be in need of a coat. And lingering on the bridle paths of our precious North Salem just taking in the lush haziness of the beginning of another perfect New York summer.

Before it slips through my fingers once again, I need to retreat with you back to this past March when I wrote about the frustration of having no young Vidalia onions in our northern stores, and the disappointment I found in not being able to recreate the recipe for braised spring Vidalia in The Gift of Southern Cooking.

This is to advise you I found the onions, unbelieveably, in the last breath of spring at the local farmer's market. When I saw them, I was pleased and a little sad. I knew I would only get to do this once this year as the onions came an went in a late spring breeze. It had better be an onion dish to end all onion dishes. That, and it is Miss Edna's recipe after all, I do not want to fail her even now so long after she has departed.

I should tell you now what I should have before. The truth is, I don't really dig onions as a dish (creamed pearl onions having done me in at age five). You will get no argument from me on the importance of the onion in bases and for flavor. If I was to come to like them at all, I knew this had to be left to a simple but masterful cook who really understood the ingredient in order to make it great. I have never been disappointed in Miss Edna's leadership. Alas, only in the complete lack of of ability to get my hands on her ingredient list at times.

You are hoping for my recipe card, maybe? The best advice I can give is to buy the book. It will last you longer, serve you better, and touch you deeply more often than any other book on your cooking shelf.

When you do get it, you might like to scribble in the margin of the recipe that a touch more butter and 1 tablespoon (give or take) finely minced fresh sage make the dish transcendent. What a fool I've been. I love onion dishes. I would eat these every day. Twice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

made these last night on yr recco delicious tom north carolina