Today I made apple sauce. It was the amazing inauguration of what I am planning to turn into a month-long Applefest celebration. What is Applefest, one might ask? My last two years of college I lived in the Loj - a cozy house with 10 other gals on the main drag in town - where each fall the housemates got together one Saturday around the apple harvest and invited the community to eat an enormous array of dishes involving apples - "Applefest".
There's just something about eating in local season that makes me happy, and for me, the apple is kind of my quintessential local food. Born and raised and educated in New York, I always associated apples, and their various products, with home and fall and friends and well-being and other emotions that seem too complicated to explain in words. Indeed, I would even go far enough to say that my emotional relationship with apples in a sense could be equated to the Guatemalan relationship with corn.
So I honestly found it vaguely disorienting to walk past the plaza one morning and see the vendors with enormous piles of local, blemished, worm-ridden, delicious apples, looking like they were right off the tree in my grandpa's backyard. 3Q/lb. I mean, of course we have apples here. We have potatoes in spades, why not colder-climate fruit, too? There's an apple tree in my friend's yard. I just hadn't realized I'd see this food that reminds so distinctly and emotionally of home in a place that feels so physically and emotionally and culturally distinct from New York - a place where the leaves aren't changing and we shouldn't hold our breath for snow. So it took me a week or two to wrap my head around it and buy some cinnamon, but then I did. Apples? Why yes I will, thank you.
It's amazing how strongly smell evokes memory. Preparing the apple sauce sent me back instantly to apples past: picking apples in our backyard with Mom when I was 3, to make apple crisp - what a revelation that you could eat things that grew outside and didn't come from a supermarket!, cider with friends after a geology field trip, cooking for Apple fest until late at night, window-shopping the bazillions of varieties at the local farmer's market in my college town in Central New York, picking apples with my boyfriend in the rain in Upper Michigan on a friend's farm, making fresh apple sauce for my pop-pop, bringing apple crisp with maple syrup and fresh whipped cream through the snow to a potluck...
The apples I picked up are more cider apples and not really cooking apples, but I'm not going to complain, and I don't think anyone else is either. My host sister even gave some apple sauce to her baby, who is just starting on solid foods, and he loved it. Now the only thing to get is some maple syrup!
On another note, time seems to be flying the past week and when I look ahead I only see appointments, social engagements, pending research, housekeeping and personal to-do lists, and work commitments whizzing past me. This is great. For the moment, being busy keeps me happy, and suddenly I am getting solid ideas of things to do and imagining attempting real work here. And at least I will have some comfort food to accompany me in these next weeks before the apples finish!