Nagori – Quebec autumn strawberries crumble

Have you ever felt melancholic, looking at the very last strawberries of the market during fall season? Have you ever felt the irrepressible need to buy one more basket of eggplants (so plump and juicy and shiny) to cook something spectacular[1] with them before they disappear again for a whole year? Have you ever wished for the already vanished taste of such fleeting delicacies as raspberries, zuchini or garlic blossoms, Romanesco broccoli, Mount Royal plums or blue Concord grapes?

Japanese language has a beautiful word for these last moments to enjoy a fresh produce, or already regret its disappearance: Nagori (名残 – “memory, relic”). The quintessential short-lived pleasure, a mix of joy and regret. Nagori is the food equivalent of Augusts’ last outdoor swim, of the little summer dress you wear one last time before folding it for winter, of the way we linger on terraces to retain the sun, even if it’s already a little bit too cold.

Crédit photo : Xuxu – Almamat(t)ers
Crédit photo : Xuxu – Almamat(t)ers

Choosing local produce in season is important for countless reasons, whether ecological, financial or ethical (not to mention culinary). If you need a few more, here they are:

Hashiri (走り “first”, “running”), the heavenly taste of very first seasonal produce like spring potatoes, early blueberries and string beans.

Shun (旬 –“season”») or sakari, when a fruit or a vegetable is at its full glory, sun-kissed peaches and fragrant tomatoes for example.

And isn’t the taste infinitely better when you’ve patiently waited all winter long, without buying those giant and tasteless California-grown strawberries? Yay to seasonality.

So, it’s in a very nagori state of mind that we made this scrumptious Strawberry crumble recipe from Trois fois par jour. We just skipped the sugar in the strawberries (only a drizzle of maple syrup and cinnamon) along with ¼ of the recommended butter and brown sugar in the crust, to bring out the natural sweetness and tartness of wonderful Quebec strawberries. These autumn red fruits are still available and succulent, but hurry up if you want to enjoy them one last time before next year. (If you shop at Jean Talon market, we encourage you to make a small detour via Pile ou Glace on St-Laurent: their vanilla gelato will be perfect with warm crumble, and they’re not stingy about the portions).

  [1] Such grandiloquent plans usually turn into large amounts of rather bad spaghetti sauce, unfortunately.

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