Terrace. Balcony. Veranda. Deck. Courtyard. Porch. Loggia. Lanai. Aerie. Stoop. Garden.
Regardless of what we call it, when the weather is nice it’s where we want to be: eating, drinking, relaxing with friends. It’s what summer is all about.
In the Midwest we had porches. Two of them actually: one off the kitchen where we had most summer meals; and one overlooking the lake where we had the rest. They had to be screened-in, of course. A popular form of summer greeting in those parts is: “How are your mosquitoes?” Trust me, it’s not an altruistic concern about the health and welfare of flying bloodsuckers!
In Andorra we had terraces, extending out from the mountain the house was built into. Fantastic views but not for people with vertigo.
In Spain, in the cities, everyone lives in apartment blocks and everyone has balconies, some large some small, almost all with gardens. Actually, in Spain it’s legal to grow pot (marijuana, wacky tobacky, cannibas) for personal consumption. Next time you’re in Barcelona, look up and admire the lush green balconies everywhere in the city….and smile.
Our friend, living in the mountains in Spain, has a tiled aerie. There’s a roof over part for shade on hot days, to sit, sip a chilled rosado and admire the mountains. Just don’t walk to close to the low wall…it’s a long way down to the valley.
Here, in French farm country, we have a tiled patio or terrasse. It’s next to our huge mulberry tree, just off the kitchen. No view but very peaceful.
The French don’t need anything particularly formal for dining al fresco. If you ever drive in France during the warm months you will notice a uniquely French phenomena: at precisely 1:00 all of the French cars on the road pull over to the shoulder and park. Trunks are popped open and out come table, chairs, table cloth, bottles of wine and water, picnic baskets laden with quiches, ham, cheese, fruit and a sweet tart along with proper plates, flatware and napkins. The table is set up on whatever level ground they can find, preferably not the roadway, and everyone sits down to a proper, hour-long lunch. Some things are sacred!
I have no idea why, but it’s an almost universally accepted truth that food tastes better when eaten al fresco – even whilst inhaling diesel fumes. All that being said….there’s a Party going on!
I’m contributing (please don’t throw things at me) zucchini, courgette, summer squash, the green menace (or, in this case, yellow menace)…
The one, easy requirement for contributions is that they be (mostly) seasonal and local.
So, let’s see: Yellow courgette? Check, my garden. Lemon thyme? Check, my garden. Lemon basil? Ditto. Walnuts? Well, they’re last years ’cause this years haven’t fallen yet, but they’re mine, so check. Butter? It’s local. Olive oil? Close enough…
Sautéed Courgette (Zucchini) with Lemon Thyme and Walnuts
Slice the blossom end off of the zucchini, then slice it into 1/2 inch (1 cm) rounds. Heat 1 tsp butter and the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. The skillet needs to be large enough to hold all of the slices flat. Add zucchini slices and fry 8 – 12 minutes. Check after 8 by lifting up with tongs and looking at the bottom; it should be getting brown spots on it. If not, fry some more; if yes turn and fry the other side. The other side won’t take quite as long. When they are done, the slices will have nice, browned patches on both sides and be tender.
While the zucchini is frying, heat the remaining tsp of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add walnut halves and sauté 10 minutes, turning and stirring occasionally. When done, transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop. Snip basil and pull the thyme leaves off the stems. When zucchini is done, remove to a platter, arranging nicely. Sprinkle with herbs, chopped nuts, salt and pepper if desired, and serve.
Come along to the party! You’ll be able to browse the groaning buffet tables on Sept. 9, at Cream Puffs in Venice and La Mia Cucina.
Happy End of Summer!