Thursday, 30 June 2011

There's a wedding coming up

I've just spent half an hour outside shelling pistachio's. It's one of these tasks that I put off because life's too short and all that. But actually, sitting in the sun watching the tide come in and actually having the time, in the run up to a busy wedding weekend, to do this is quite nice. 

photography by carole fitzgerald of Lazy Sunday

photography by Carole Fitzgerald of Lazy Sunday

A few years ago I visited a friend's finca in Catalunya. They grow olives and almonds and a few of us descended during nut knocking season to thwack the almonds from their branches onto large white sheets which had been spread around the base of individual trees. When the sheets were full, and the trees empty and weightless again, we pulled the corners together handkerchief style and between us lugged our almond harvest back to the finca. For the next couple of hours, as the sun warmed the terrace, we separated the nuts from the leaves and the twigs that had also fallen from the trees. We chatted and drank iced water and thought about lunch and siesta. We did the same again the next day and the next and the next, until the trees were relieved of their winter baggage.

On leaving a few days later, we were each given a bag full of nuts to take home, along with local olive oil which we had watched being decanted from a huge barrell on the neighbouring finca, and a couple of bottles of red wine that we had each selected from the local vineyard. When the very kind man at check - in charged me £70 excess baggage I was so relaxed and chilled that I didn't even catch my breath. Telling my husband, a few weeks later, about this (I wasn't feeling quite so relaxed and chilled when I thought about this some more on the flight home and didn't share this additional cost for a while) he casually enquired why we hadn't shelled the almonds before we left. Obvious really.

I was remembering all of this as I shelled my pistachio's. A friend had brought them back from Turkey for me, as I use them endlessly in baking particularly. I love the colour; the greenness when they're ground; the flashes of deep aubergine. They make everything look so pretty. And they taste sweet nutty, as opposed to walnutty bitter nutty.

Today they're getting chopped up for pistachio shortbread. I'm preparing the baking for a high tea wedding lunch at the weekend, and as my oven is full with meringues at the moment, it seems like a good chance to just sit. And shell.