Thursday, June 27, 2013

A taste of forest in a jar

Miniature pinecones on a Hazel Alder
As regards presents, this one was way up there.
I don’t exactly know what it is, except that it’s a bit of culinary heaven in a jar!
My friend and colleague Marina usually supplies me with all kinds of honey, mainly from her native Uzbekistan. But this time, she presented me with a small jar that looked like berry conserve or jam.
Marina was in a hurry. She just told me a friend got her this from Italy and she wanted me to taste it too. “Enjoy,” she said while running off to get to work on time.
What's left of my pinecones in syrup
When I got home that night and opened the lid, I discovered it was not berries in the red thick syrup, but miniature pinecones!
I tentatively dug in with a spoon, not sure whether I was supposed to eat them or not. But when I did, I was blown away.
I was actually eating miniature pinecones in syrup.
It was like taking a walk in the pine forests of Lebanon – tasting, smelling and hearing the forest with every chew.
It is so delicious and special that I kept digging my spoon in for another mouthful.
Luckily, I remembered to stop in time to have some left to take these pictures.
I am more of a city person. Pine forests remind me of being sent to Lebanon’s mountain resorts of Aley and Brummana when I was a child. I came to hate them for being exiled for the hustle and bustle of Beirut.
Pine forests and the continuous chirp of crickets surrounded both houses where I used to stay.
After the first taste of my delicacy, I asked one of my favorite food bloggers, Sally Prosser of My Custard Pie, if she knew anything about my little pinecones. She did not.
And for the first time, Google let me down too. There is a lot about miniature pinecones, but for decoration.
So, I really don’t know what they are. Are they from a pine tree, a Hemlock tree or a Hazel Alder? I have no idea.
Do you?
Feasting on my precious gift reminds me of when I re-read for the nth time Orhan Pamuk’s “My Name is Red.” I feel like I am reading, seeing and hearing the words. With my pine conserve it is tasting, smelling and hearing…