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Thursday, 19 March 2009

Of Pickle pots.

It’s autumn. A moist melancholy March with one bonus, something I’d forgotten about until now that I’m back on the land. Mushrooms, glorious field mushrooms and their enormous cousin, the horse mushroom. My small paddock and the top meadow have been covered in white lumps. Even my lawn took to sprouting mushroom fairy rings along with the usual fragile rainbow-coloured clusters of toadstools. We’ve had a generous four weeks of the delicacies instead of the ordinary two week season. Driving into town I can see that every farm shared in the harvest, there hasn’t been one field without a scattering of saucer sized horse mushrooms, or rings of field mushrooms.

What to do with the daily four pails of them. Dry them, soup them and I like to cheer bitter winter days - the ones where you think the sun will never shine again and every growing thing is dead - with a taste of the seasons yet to come. I love a spicy pickled mushroom stock to scent a winter soup or stew, make a sauce or gravy. This time I have my Japanese pickle pot with its ceramic weight to do the job of pressing the salted mushrooms to extract their liquid. I chuckle every time I use it. It’s Japanese pottery, expensive and beautifully simple. Standing on my kitchen table it draws my eye and I remember the stylish shop full of Japanese pottery, fabrics and clothing. My students and I went shopping there, practising English. How Sachiko teased me about buying such an expensive pickle pot when I could easily buy a cheap, made in China one in the local D2 or Cains superstore. Kaori and Kaworu didn’t believe I’d make pickles, not like the exquisite crisp Japanese ones they could make. But I think that Kaori understood when I said I wanted to take home something traditionally made and specially Japanese. So I use it and remember the smells and sights, and especially my friends in Japan.