This day is the Solstice – the day the sun seems to stand still. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the Summer Solstice, the longest day and shortest night of the year, and in the Southern Hemisphere it is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and the longest night. Since very very ancient times these celestial marks of the turn of the seasons have been celebrated all over the world, and the celebrations have been adapted and appropriated to varying cultures and religions. The classic example is the adoption of the Northern Winter Solstice customs to the Christmas season, so that we now do not associate fires and fruit cake with the movement of the sun at all (and they have an uncomfortable fit at Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere where it is Summer).
It seems to me – us now being global citizens and all – that the celebration of the Solstices is worthy of reviving. Not in the sense of religious worship, but in the sense of acknowledgement of this wonderful planet and the cycle of the seasons. A twice-yearly, truly global, non-sectarian celebration. Does the world need that? Would it be fun?
I would love to hear your own solstice celebration ideas.
Last year I gave you some ‘Snow’ recipes to represent the Winter Solstice here in the Southern hemisphere. This time I give you some recipes inspired by the Summer Solstice, which those of you in the Northern half of the globe are celebrating.
I have chosen some fruit syrups or cordials which may be used to make refreshing drinks. It may be that we will all need more cooling beverages in the future, if we cannot solve the problem of global warming. In the meanwhile, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere and feeling chilly, make the drinks anyway, and add a nip of the warming draft of your choice.
The recipes are from Cassells Dictionary of Cookery (1870’s), and appear under the heading Summer Beverages.
Grate quinces, pass the pulp through a sieve, then set it before the fire for the juice to settle and clarify; strain and add a pound of sugar (boiled down) to every four ounces of juice; remove from the fire , and when cold bottle for use. A table-spoon of this syrup will flavour a pint of water.
Rasberry Vinegar [syrup]
This is made by squeezing the juice of three quarts of raspberries into a quart of vinegar, and then simmering the vinegar for about a quarter of an hour with two pounds of sugar in an earthen pipkin not glazed with lead. When cold it is to be corked; and a small spoonful of water makes it a very cooling and refreshing drink.
Boil six ounces of sugar in a pint of water until it is dissolved. Let it cool, then add a quarter of a pint of lemon-juice and half a drachm of essence of lemon. Mix thoroughly, and bottle for use. Sufficient: two tablespoonfuls of syrup to a tumblerful of cold water.
If your solstice celebrations demand cake, I offer you my recipe for Summer Solstice Cake (originally made for the Southern Hemisphere Christmas).
May Harrods Suggest … ?
Quotation for the Day …
The right food always comes at the right time. Reliance on out-of-season foods makes the gastronomic year an endlessly boring repetition. Roy Andries de Groot.