Friday, August 27, 2010

La Plum de ma Tante

Well, actually not. I just used the title for effect, in remembrance of all of the terribly useful sentences we had to learn in French at school. ‘La Plume de ma tante’ is right up there for usefulness with ‘Le singe est dans l’arbre’. However, I digress. Anyway, the two plum trees were from my father, not my aunt.

It has been soft fruit galore this summer at Mouffetard Towers. Brief but heavy gluts occurred in the following order: strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries and blackcurrant, and now plums. I’m assuming that three figs does not a glut make.

We have only a small freezer, but it is stocked to the gunnels with frozen fruit. Jam has been made, as has ice cream and also plum chutney. It is with the plums that I am particularly pleased. This is the first year that they have fruited to any extent – they have only been in the ground for three years. I have been rather bad and barely thinned the fruit as they developed, which no doubt means that they will go into biannual cropping mode for a while. We have two trees – a bog standard, but ever so delicious, ‘Victoria’ and the slightly more unusual ‘Pershore Yellow Egg’. The choice of both was down to nostalgia – happy memories of shoving the sweet, soft fruits into my mouth as a child, in my grandfather’s garden. Unlike my nostalgia for rubbish 1980s bands* and for rubbish 1970s sweets, the memories have lasted the test of time.

There cannot be a prettier fruit than a plum, particularly a pink or dark-skinned one – the soft white sheen of the bloom, the almost translucent flesh. A taste of late summer, and a taste of the turning year – colder days coming, when plum crumble will warm your soul.

So, if you are in Worcestershire this weekend (which sadly I am not), and this post has made your mouth water for sun-warmed plum flesh, you might want to visit Pershore, home of the Pershore Plum Festival.

DISCLAIMER: I was never very keen on Kajagoogoo but am still rather fond of a range of 80s bands, where, again, reality weighs up well against nostalgia.

10 comments:

chaiselongue said...

My son's favourite useless French phrase when he was at school was 'Le singe est dans la poubelle' - surely he can't really have been taught that?! Pershore plums sound wonderful!

James A-S said...

I think that La Plume de ma tante is an almost mythical French phrase and I am not absolutely sure that it ever appeared in a French textbook.
The answer to the question is "sur le pont d'Avignon"
I like the sound of Pershore Yellow egg. We have two gages which, I think, are preferable to plums as you can fit a whole greengage in your mouth while a plum is a bit of a tight squeeze.

HappyMouffetard said...

@Chaiselongue: I can think of very few occasions when that would be of use. Certainly in the UK, unless one lived close to Monkey World, and the monkeys were quite keen escapologists and one had to catch them with the closest thing to hand.

@James: I was put off greengages at an early age as we used to have them with lumpy, thick-skinned custard at junior school sometimes. My fear of the custard has transferred to the gage.

Lucy said...

I remember being four and learning that plums shouldn't have the bloom rubbed off them if they are to be shown. It seemed wondrous that, at last, I had come across something deemed better if left unpolished and uncleaned.

Lucy

HappyMouffetard said...

Lucy, that's a very good point. Quentin Crisp would have approved of plums in that case.

Arabella Sock said...

Le petit bébé est trés malade!

HappyMouffetard said...

Arabella, that's rather a disconcerting phrase to learn.

I don't really remember many phrases from my French classes. However, one of the first phrases I learnt in German was: "Hier ist Lumpi. Lumpi is mein hund." Poor dog.

patientgardener said...

Plums are definately a big crop here in Worcestershire, they seem to be everywhere at the moment with friends and family trying to off load bags of them at every opportunity!

Belinda said...

A long poem about 'le crabe arab'...

Nutty Gnome said...

"Le soleil brille dans la seile blue et les petit oiseaux chante dans les arbres vertes!"
Passed my french 'O'level vocab with that one - mind you, I think the whole class did! :)

Glad you've got a glut of plums - my plum tree curled up its roots and died this spring - I don't think it liked our heavy winter :(