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26 September 2006

Light my (bon)fire

**Whoop** **Yeah** **Come-on**

Yes people, autumn has arrived.  Actually, given my intro I should say fall has arrived.  Either way, we're there.  Rosh Hashanah is over (there'll be a post about my pot-au-feu shortly), there's a slight nip in the air, the leaves are turning, the evenings are drawing in.  Italian mamas are beginning to pulp their tomato harvest into passata, thoughts are turning to stews, soups, pies and in general the best season for food.

Why so you ask me.  Well let me tell you.  Autumn heralds the short lived truffle season. I don't believe it's possible to add any new hyperbole to the delight truffles can give.  I do think that much of what is written is pretentious hyperbollocks, but I do love those expensive little pieces of pig food.  It's impossible to describe what they taste like, although Giorgio Locatelli gets close in his new book (more of that shortly as well, in addition to this).  He says something along the lines of they taste like sweaty humans.  I know what he means - there's something earthy about them and somehow that makes them delicious.  They are the apotheosis of umami.

Additionally, if there are truffles, there must be risotto.  If there's risotto, there must be butter.  If there's butter, all must be well with the world.

Autumn also heralds the return of the chestnut.  You can put that nutty little chest to all sorts of uses.  Whether in soups (as we did for the Silverbrow nuptials) you can make cakes out of it, you can make stuffings out of it.  Sod it, you can chuck them on the fire and eat them straight out of the shell.  For the record, the best place to do this is wandering around Florence in the early evening, contemplating just how many courses of your dinner that night will include truffles.  The worst place to do is Oxford Street with the pushy vendors and those annoying tourists.

Apples come into their proper season, not their Tesco season.  With apples here, that can only mean that citrus fruits are not far off.  Strictly speaking a winter fruit, but by the end of November, you can get some fantastic juicy, sweet flavours.  And oranges and lemons (say the Bells of St Clement's) and apples and some spices, means more pies and tarts and pastry and butter.

Unfortunately, for me, it is also the time of year that Vacherin Mont d'Or is put on the market.  All you heretical buggers that don't keep kosher can swan off and eat the greatest (and most hyped??) cheese out there.  I can merely watch and sniff and slobber in wonderment.

This year, there is also the Salone Internazionale del Gusto to look forward to in Turin at the end of October.  I won't be there damn it, but again, you kids can go enjoy yourself and tell me how it was.

People, this is a great time of the year.  As Nigel Slater recommends, chuck away your shopping list, ignore the supermarket, go to your local market and see what is crying out to be bought - ignoring the girl in the short mini skirt, ankle boots and dodgy make-up.  Go home and cook whatever you bought (excepting that girl once again).

If I were American I'd say I'm stoked.  I'm not American so the only thing I have any plans of stoking is the bonfire.  I am however very excited.  Childishly so.

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"Additionally, if there are truffles, there must be risotto. If there's risotto, there must be butter. If there's butter, all must be well with the world."

Hear hear!! And I agree with Giorgio - there is something of a manky human smell about truffles - the other day I realised that my husband's acrid death-breath the morning after a lot of drinking reminds me of truffles (yes, I know, too much information!!) - but good heavens I love them!

And although I am basically a summer girl, living in England has made me see the beauty of Autumn - not least for the fact that I can find Jerusalem artichokes - hurrah!

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