Mums? Check. Pumpkins? Of course– picked fresh off the vine at the patch. Crisp, sunny days? Oh yeah. Chilly, moonlit nights? Yup. Fall officially arrived September 23rd, but it wasn’t until more recent weeks that I could truly feel it, and perhaps even more so, smell it. Woodsmoke, brisk new northern breezes, and the sweet dry tobacco smell of crushed leaves.
Growing up, I always felt a seeping sadness as Autumn progressed, a bittersweet sentimental feeling in my gut that didn’t quite leave until it was forcibly extinguished by the hullabaloo of the impending Christmas holiday. While Halloween provided an excellent distraction, it always seemed to be over too quickly. And back in the early 80’s, the Christmas season didn’t start before Halloween, as it does now.
But slowly I’ve grown to enjoy the Fall, and I try to view the transition as an exciting change (gorgeous colors, cooler breezes, anticipation of snow) rather than as a depressing loss (of lush green, warmth, oceanside lazing). And, as a chef, a nice way for me to usher in the new season is with lots of good cooking…
Food is the best way to honor both the season and your own memories and traditions. When the nights get cooler, all I can think about is what comfy cozy meal I’m going to make for dinner. Pumpkin ravioli with brown butter and sage, brussel sprouts with figs and bacon, crunchy sweet potato wedges with thyme, baked apples with custard, pot roast with lots of red wine and soft caramelized onions and carrots, roasted butternut squash drizzled with pomegranate molasses and fresh mint….
And by the time I’ve enjoyed the bounty of the Autumn and all its food inspirations, I’ll be good-to-go to slide right into Winter. New Year’s fondue party anyone?