Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A is for Applesauce

No more blossoms grow on my lemon tree, and the lavender seems to pull its feathery leaves inward. Fall is in full swing in New York, and yet all my recent traveling--and consequent blog neglect--means that I haven't really had the chance to enjoy this seasonal shift. I rectified this situation, however, this past weekend, when I went to the Adirondacks with some friends, and returned to New York City with half a peck of small Jonagold apples. It was already dark when I returned to my apartment at 6:00pm, and as I switched on the lamps in my living room, I decided to make one of my favorite simple Autumn dishes: applesauce. "Dish" may be too formal a term, but applesauce's flexibility, in my mind, makes it just as noble as coq au vin or bouef bourguignon. I eat mine over oatmeal or with roast chicken, or just by itself, re-heated and stirred with a cinnamon stick. Applesauce is also one of my favorite comfort foods, particularly when I'm sick, and because I felt the faint headache of an impending cold, I set to work.

As I sliced and heated--I leave my apples unpeeled, because I prefer the sauce's subsequent color and texture--I thought about my friend DEM. She was very generous with both her time and her love, and even when she was swamped with work and family matters, she still often put our friendship first. Three years ago, on a frigid November Ithaca night, that generosity manifested itself in the shape of a syrupy canned peach cobbler, which she unexpectedly brought to the section meeting for our "Anglo-Saxon Law Codes" course. The October before, despite a heavy schedule of her own midterm exams and student papers to grade, she happily surprised me by appearing on my doorstep in the midst of a raucous housewarming party, and ate applesauce and Nantucket cranberry pie while we talked for hours. And the Fall before that, when I finally came home from the hospital, she moved into my apartment and cared for me as if I were her own daughter.

The autumnal view from my Ithaca porch
This is my first Fall without DEM, and I must admit that I'm finding it more challenging than I would have thought. Maybe it's because Fall, more than any other season, reminds me so much of Ithaca. The leaves in Central Park bear the same changing colours as those in my old Fall Creek neighborhood, and the children running down my block are as excited by the start of the school year as DEM and I were back on the Arts Quad. Or maybe it's because, as I make applesauce made from Autumn Jonagolds, I remember how happy I was to see DEM on my doorstep that October evening, and how she walked out of the cold Fall darkness into our bright, warm kitchen, which was filled with friends, and food, and the scent of apples.

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