I made Eve's Pudding this afternoon. A delicious dessert that emanates from Fall apples with a sponge topping, that bakes in the oven for forty minutes or so until it comes out golden, with apple juice bubbling like lava around the edges. I serve it with vanilla icecream and I believe the secret to the dish is in the simplicity and the fact that it comes from the first recipe book I ever owned and used in school at Home Economics class. It has withstood the test of time.
Last Fall I had so many apples that I didn't know what to do with them. I made apple sauce and baked apples and apple and blackberry pie and in the end I gave apples away to neighbours and even then, some, I must admit rotted in the box, brown craters formed and grew into vast lakes on the surface. A friend of mine was celebrating a bountiful harvest then and kindly thought of me. This year I have to resort to buying apples because my friends tree produced none. She laughed, when I said that perhaps it had something to do with the recession. We have two small apple trees in the garden that the birds take advantage of and I don't mind if they do because the fruit is bitter and inedible.
I often recall my childhood when I peel and core the apples. In those days we had a decent orchard where apples grew with exotic sounding names. I can't remember all of the names now apart from two; Cox's Pippins and Beauty of Bath. I can repeat Beauty of Bath without tiring, the word conjures up all sorts of images.
I see myself standing in a large wooden outbuilding with my mother on a still September afternoon. - We are sorting through the apples. The apples have to be perfect for storage, bruises, even the slightest defect, immediately deems them unsuitable. There is a huge stack of newspaper on hand so that we can carefully wrap each apple before it is gently placed into a cardboard box.
I remember how our palms were covered in words, a zigzag of newsprint, a jumble of hieroglyphics. I was amazed at my mother's knowledge, how she knew what to do with the fruit, how she gathered them lovingly into her hands and slowly went through the motions of storage, of permanence in a way. She did not seem to be bothered about how long this process took and in the darkness of the outbuilding I remember how she bent her face to the Beauty of Bath, to study the fine veins on its surface, the rose colour of the skin, the scent of Summer that swam in the air. I remember how she basked in the moment, there was no hurry to it at all, time was irrelevant. She was young then and so was I. And there was a big swing closeby that hung from a tall chestnut tree, it distracted me and called out, over the busy rustle of paper, the sweetness of apples, the meticulous storage of memories.