The days are getting shorter. The farmer's markets are winding down. The shadows grow long in the afternoon as the air cools and summer's brightness wanes. When we were still an agrarian culture and lived among our food, this was the middle of the harvest, and the very end of the growing season. We began preparing for winter, when our diets inevitably, necessarily changed from fresh produce to dried and preserved fruits, pickled and stewed vegetables, nuts and legumes and other foods that store well for months at a time.
The daylight and the night are nearly in balance, which is why we call this time the equinox. This is a time of gratitude, an opportunity to give thanks for life and health. The days in which we faced winter's chill with only the hearth fire and good planning to get us through are not so distant yet in human history. So this is also a time for community, for family, for coming together to face the cold and the darkness that is to come.
As the Autumnal Equinox approaches, my counterpart and I are making our preparations by planning a family dinner. Our menu consists of seasonal food and symbolize the transition from farming and domestication to hunting and gathering that our forebears practiced. What they did for survival, we observe in honor and homage. Life is fragile. Food and family are essential.
For our mid-harvest family meal, we are combining those robust, late-season vegetables - think roots and squashes - with earthy herbs and spices. We considered some variety of game for the main course but ultimately felt it was too early to switch to hunted meat and opted for something domesticated.
Here is our seasonal Autumn Equinox dinner menu for next weekend:
Pumpkin Soup (here is last year's recipe)
Some variety of Lamb (here is my 30-Minute Lamb post)
Sauteed Zucchini, as a final salute to summer
Dessert could be a pie made from the last of the summer fruits. I think we will be serving cake. While a nice, spicy carrot cake is definitely appropriate for this meal, my counterpart has an almond flour cake recipe he would like to try out. Recipes and photos will be posted.