Spring has sprung here in Northern Germany. The crocuses are enjoing the warmth of the sun, the days are longer than they are wide, and the hipsters in our neighborhood have broken out their white jeans.
This winter didn’t seem too terribly long to me, probably because I spent large swaths of it in temperature-controlled airports. I missed the long days of bitter cold, and the weeks with nothing to eat but some wrinkly potatoes and the last of the storage onions. The relative cornucopia of my winter diet does not dampen my enthusiasm for spring produce: I am thrilled when the asparagus arrives, and spend ages in the ‘sprouts’ section of the greengrocer trying to indentify the bulky yellow ones between the pea shoots and the sunflower sprouts. I get excited about new peas, about the availability of edible nasturtiums, and about the improved quality of the fresh herbs. Amidst all of this newness, imagine my surprise when a PEAR, that most autumnal of fruit, was the winner of this morning’s breakfast fruit-off! A small, perfect, yellow/red, spotted pear that wasn’t even soft! I don’t know where it came from, or what its name was, or who it’s related to, so I am free to imagine that it is a special Spring Pear that grows in cloud forests on a vine with large, daffodil-yellow flowers. Why not, right? The color scheme makes sense for the season, and if we can crosswalk the death of Jesus to the Easter Bunny and further to Peeps and Cadbury eggs, the Spring Pear concept isn’t even a struggle.
This week I’m taking drugs (not the kind that need a special scale,) and they are interfering with my sense of taste. I know this, in part, because I got some shampoo in my mouth this morning and it wasn’t a big deal – it didn’t really taste like anything. I know from previous experience that shampoo tastes like a burning plastic bag, so this worried me. Later I made what I thought was a killer leek/ginger/lemongrass/soy/garlic topping for salmon in papillote, but when we had it for dinner it tasted alternately like honey and then like green beans. Weird.
The Spring Pear’s debut today was exceptionally well-timed: it had a clean, full pear taste and, especially important this week, it was a pear! A delicious moment of taste sanity in an otherwise mixed-up week.
The German is tons of fun to cook with: he eats ravenously, he pays attention to what things taste like, he will try anything, and he gives good compliments. He does tend to start the compliment before he’s actually tasted the food, but I like the eagerness and he recallibrates the intensity of the compliment appropriately as he’s chewing. His reaction to the Spring Pear was perfect: wide eyes, an “Oh!”, and a little laugh. I love watching him eat.