A L M A N A C
By Rosetta Fawley
Words to Grow On
August is National Goat Cheese Month. And surely 2015 must be a particularly good year for goat cheese because it’s the Year of the Goat in the Chinese calendar. In nature’s clever way, August is also the month that figs are at their best. What could be more delicious than figs with goat cheese? They make a blissfully easy starter for a high summer dinner party. Take two to three figs per person and cut them in half lengthways. Cut a log of goat cheese into half-inch slices, one slice per person. Broil the goat cheese slices until a light golden color. Arrange the figs artfully on a small bed of arugula and place the goat cheese on top. Serve with Champagne. The Almanac has no idea whether Champagne goes with these flavors, but she does find it livens up a party. A good dry sherry works too.
Get Your Goat Cheese Here
“Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil,” wrote Cicero to his friend Terentius Varro in 46 BC. This is commonly translated as, “He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing.” How true. The literal translation is “If you have a garden in your library nothing will fail.” Keep reading, keep growing. Cicero wrote that letter during the reign of Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (63 BC–AD 14), who is sometimes called Octavian but better known as Augustus. He was the first Roman emperor and the first to be Augustus. The word comes from the Latin title, meaning venerable, and the month was named after our imperial friend in the year 8 BC. It was considered his lucky month. Augustus was the great nephew of Julius Caesar. There are those who believe that Julius Caesar was left-handed, though the evidence is shaky. Either way, August 13 is International Left Handers’ Day. Famous southpaws include Morgan Freeman, Matt Groening, Whoopi Goldberg and Hans Holbein the Younger.
The Art & Soul of Wilmington
“A small garden, figs, a little cheese, and, along with this, three or four good friends — such was luxury to Epicurus.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
My Kingdom for a Good Fig
“All figs are soft to the touch, and when ripe contain grains in the interior. The juice, when the fruit is ripening, has the taste of milk, and when dead ripe, that of honey. If left on the tree they will grow old; and when in that state, they distil a liquid that flows in tears like gum. Those that are more highly esteemed are kept for drying, and the most approved kinds are put away for keeping in baskets. The figs of the island of Ebusus are the best as well as the largest, and next to them are those of Marrucinum. Where figs are in great abundance, as in Asia, for instance, huge jars are filled with them, and at Ruspina, a city of Africa, we find casks used for a similar purpose: here, in a dry state, they are extensively used instead of bread, and indeed as a general article of provision.” From The Natural History by Pliny the Elder, Book XV, Chapter XXI, translated by Bostock and Riley.
The Fall Garden Beckons
Luxuriate in the heat but don’t forget that now is the time to plant your fall vegetable garden. It’s all the “c”’s in the first half of the month: cauliflower, cabbage and Chinese cabbages such as Pak Choi and Jade Pagoda. It’s not too late to plant collards or cucumbers either; just try to get them in by the middle of the month, a little later on the coast. Plant spinach at the same time. From August 15 onward add kale to the leafy greens. Mustard, leaf lettuce and turnips too. Kohlrabi can be planted through the month. All these vegetables are fairly hardy, but do harvest the cauliflower and leaf lettuce before the first deep frost. That’s difficult to imagine now, isn’t it?
August 2015 •
The Art & Soul of Wilmington