Wednesday, 15 December 2010

At my brother's house

By the early hours of Sunday 26 September I was still dreaming very lucidly as I fell asleep: Morpheus up to his old tricks. I was also rather wakeful, as I still had traces of the itching recorded in my last entry.

I was not unduly worried by the lack of solid sleep, as I was in for a gentle day at my brother's house. The rest of my family would be celebrating my wife's younger brother's 50th birthday, but I was not yet up to social gatherings of that length and liveliness.

So it was that I sat at the kitchen table in Teddington chatting to my sister-in-law and my brother, eating crisps and snacks and drinking mild Brittany cider (moderate drinking of alcohol being acceptable in my present condition). My sister-in-law is a very good cook, who always prepares tasty food, and it was a pleasure to spend time in the welcoming kitchen while a dish of lasagne was given shape and substance.

A demonstration of cider apple-pressing in southern Brittany (August 2010).
The apples (little unpromising green things visible in basket took the right) are crushed by a horse-drawn mechanism (not visible in picture). The resulting pulp is mixed with the straw visible under the ratcheted press shown here. I am not sure about the reason for the straw, but imagine it helps to strain the juice and also to confine the apple pulp while it is subjected to the relentless pressure of the press.

The juice is collected and poured into the barrel shown, from which it is drawn off, ready to be sampled by the expectant crowd.
The apple pulp and resulting juice oxidise very quickly in the open and, hence the dark brown colour. Don't be put off though; it tasted superb!
The shirts and hats are rather natty, don't you think?
 This demonstration took place at a festival of bread baking, by the way

There was no rush and the creation of the dish helped encourage my returning appetite as the room filled with warmth and aroma. When the time came to eat I was fully ready and tucked in with relish, even coming back for a second helping. Fruit crumble, which I love in all its variants, followed and this became for me a perfect meal.

The afternoon was spent in further conversation, browsing the papers and just enjoying the comfort of the house, enhanced by the sight of rain falling outside the windows. Better on this occasion to be in than out!

In due time I was ferried safely home to be reunited with my wife and family, who had themselves, praise be, had a good day.

Happy birthday, brother-in-law!

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