A pear tree grows in the woods next to my house, and I made a pear tart (actually two!) with its fruit. This pear tree is just one of the wonderful discoveries in my garden this summer and fall. Another one, that I’ve mentioned before, was the “resurrection” of the fig tree I planted last year. And it came out in force. It’s now almost taller than me! The weather is still summer-like, we are having a beautiful, beautiful autumn, but I start to worry about how I will protect it for the winter. I think replanting it in a pot and bringing it indoors is out of the question, the tree is too big. What should I do? Do you have any suggestions? If you do, please tell me! I’d love to see the tree alive and well next spring, and I’m afraid much of it will depend on the kind of winter, less or more harsh, that we have. If there’s a special way of wrapping the tree that will protect it better, I’d love to know.
summer in Spain
Monjavina is a sweet of arab origin, typical of the region of Játiva and of La Vall d’Albaida, where Onteniente, my hometown, is located. You can find it by other names like almoixàvena or monxàvena, but you will very rarely find it in any other regions of Spain other than the ones I just mentioned. My mom, in fact, never made it, as she comes from Seville, and I grew up eating it at the homes of friends. You could say that every household in Onteniente makes it.
The recipe is simple, with few ingredients, and that can mislead as to its result, which is a delicious, light, sugary cake that is best eaten on the day it’s made. My favorite time to have it is mid afternoon, with a glass of horchata (*) if I am in Spain, or an espresso if I am in America. This mid-afternoon snack is usually referred to as la merienda in Spain, a meal that is meant to stave off hunger between lunch and the late Spanish dinner. La merienda is most often also referred to as this meal in the context of children: the meal they eat right after they get home from school.
I remember vividly my brother-in-law Jorge’s comments on his first visit to our house in Indiana a number of years ago. It was with the occasion of a very American ritual: the barbecue. Jorge, a veterinarian turned the purchasing director at the meat department of a large Spanish supermarket chain, and who, since the last couple of years (more…)