Every once in a while you realize why something familiar to you is the way it is. Maraschino cherries, for instance. They have been in my life for at least 32 years, appearing regularly in the backs of refrigerators and occasionally in mixed drinks or on ice cream. They seem to be without redeeming feature: too sweet, too red, too chemically altered to be cherries, and nowhere near tasty enough to eat intentionally (unless you are me, 5 years old, with no other access to sugar. In that case, they are irresistible.) Maraschino cherries are gross, and yet they’re everywhere. What gives?
The reason: Amarena Cherries. Sweet, dark wild Italian cherries packed in syrup, they are bursting with flavor and have a nice sour bite to counter the sweetness of the syrup. The bottle they come in is beautiful, but it is nothing compared to the rich redness of the syrup, so concentrated that it looks almost black. Amarena cherries are delicious on a spoon, and they are dynamite with some dark chocolate ice cream. They are the reason that maraschino cherries are still around: the artificial variant is meaningless without a referent. There is no way that we would be using so many recipes that call for preserved cherries if maraschino cherries were the intended ingredient.
Update: Wikipedia just informed me that in 1964 the USDA lifted the ban on Red Dye #4 to allow its use in maraschino cherries because they are considered a decoration rather than a foodstuff. I should probably alert the scientific community to the availability of my internal organs for research purposes – I used to eat maraschino cherries by the jarful.
In other news, Frida is big into picking her boogers and eating them. Thought you might like a Frida update; there you go! She is in a growth spurt, having burst out of her favorite overalls from one day to the next, and is eating everything in sight. Today this included a large slice of 3-day-old smörgåstårta (a Swedish sandwich cake, I make mine with smoked salmon and shrimp salad,) an entire container of raspberries AND one of blueberries (apparently I wasn’t paying attention to diet diversity,) some fish sticks (my God woman, your kid is going to turn into a fishberry,) a banana, some melted brie on a tortilla (okay, consider the diet diversity problem sorted,) three slices of leftover steak on arugula/rocket, two tangerines, some oatmeal, an apple, and a truly astonishing number of spoonfuls of peanut butter. Thank god for leftovers. And for peanut butter.
Things That Make Me Feel Like I’m In Control And We’re On The Right Track
- I made a smörgåstårta, decorated it with smoked salmon and fresh dill, put on my best blasé this-happens-all-the-time-here face, and served it to brunch guests.
- Frida and I made the bread for it, too. It’s fun that she’s old enough to handle a multi-stage project, and she loves using the kitchen scale to measure out ingredients. (She can’t count to 1,200 but can recognize the zeros. She’s astonishing. Says her mother. Of course.)
- When we have a little accident, like dropping a spoonful of flour that sprays all over the kitchen, Frida often says, ‘Oh, no problem!’ and then gets to work cleaning it up. (As above re: my astonishment.)
Things That Make Me Feel Like Maybe The Wheels Are Coming Off The Bus
- Upon dropping a glass in the kitchen this morning, Frida said, ‘Shitskies!’ There is no possible way to blame that on her father.
- Later in the day when said father came home, I kind of forgot to tell him about it. (Hi, Tobias! If you’re reading this please accept my apology for teaching your daughter to swear! Also, we need more paper towels. Love you!)
On the one hand, not only do I stock rye flour in the pantry, I also use it. On the other hand, I am cognizant of the fact that Frida is in the middle of a language bloom and yet cannot keep myself from dropping the F-bomb nine times a day. Some mother I am.