Thursday, September 25, 2008

A fragrant pinch

For a few years now, I have been a tad obsessed with desiccating – you know the drawing out of moisture for the purpose of preserving. Most us have a good idea of this process from history class and the preparations of the mummification of the Egyptian pharos. I am more food-based preservation than the legacy my unnaturally taut skin will offer future archeologists.

It was early summer in Northern California, and I was spending a long weekend at my cousin’s house on the peninsular; at a time when the weather is usually prefect and it was. I woke as I do when on the west cost just prior to the arrival of the horizon’s breaking light so by the time the sky turned a pale blue I was showered, shaved and leaded up with coffee. Sitting on the patio sipping that morning cuppa I was assaulted by the fragrant sortie of the flowering orange and lemon trees. Wow, what a way to inhale the new day.

All that day that initial hit informed my impressions and I had no desire to let it go. I made an iced sun-tea of orange blossoms that was ready for dinner that got me thinking. How was I going to take it home? I could only carry 3-ounce jars of liquid onto the plane, and I am a total carry-on kind of guy. A solid was what I needed and sugar was my answer. I layered the orange blossoms in sugar, and took it home.

A few months later I went to the little plastic container labeled orange sugar, and there it was a warm California morning. I have done rose, lavender, lilac, and lemon verbena sugar and then moved on to salt. Salting my herbs has become one of my preferred methods of capturing summer’s perfume.

So, come to my door to borrow a cup of sugar or salt, and I will have to ask what flavor are you looking for?

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