Going home for summer is something I’m waiting impatiently during the whole year. In Croatia, I have two homes: one is the place I was born and spent the first 25 years of my life, and the other is the place of birth of my grandmother, the small village on an island on the coast, where my roots have grown deeper than I expected them to grow. Going home for summer means going to the island, but it isn’t the fact of being at the seaside or at the beach every day that I long for the whole year. It is rather reliving the childhood memories, regain everyday habits and seeing people and things I know so well and coming back to places that haven’t changed for years. This is where I am young and careless again, detached from reality while at the same time living the reality one could only dream of.
It astounds me thinking at what point one can connect with a certain place and at so many different levels. All the places I’ve ever been to affected me and it was, and is, always hard to leave them, even places I’ve only been to once. Is it maybe more the moment that we have a hard time leaving, than the place itself? That precious stretch of time where something happened and it is never to happen again. A precious feeling that we are able to live thousands of lives, one at each place we ever visit.
Being at my summer house feels as if the old precious moments never went away, but instead are re-lived over and over every year, making everyday rituals such as drinking coffee early in the morning under the newly born sun or spending the days at the same beach every afternoon never boring.
What is that melancholy we feel every time we return to one place or when we miss it so much? It is a longing for the moments spent there and a feeling that we are missing the life we once lived or could be living there?
We can evoke memories by taste and smell and there are particular ones which can awaken memories of home. Cinnamon or vanilla for Christmas, sweet taste of grandfather’s apple cider or the scent of baked chestnuts at the streets of my home town and my mother’s kitchen every fall. The smell of fish on the barbecue and the song of crickets all recall summer and home.
Each of these sensations reminds us on certain special moments and in a glimpse of time make us feels as we are reliving them again. And while old tastes reminds us on times past by the new ones are being preserved for the future.
This summer was marked by the memories of stone fruit. Mom’s 3 year old peach tree gave the most beautiful fruit this year, a special cultivar called peches de vigne, which ripen in late august. Stone fruits were plentiful this year and were prepared in our home in myriad of ways: hidden in a pie crust or a simple galette, roasted and sprinkled with honey or as a ripe fresh fruit eaten with hands while the juices drip down the lips and chin. Oven baked peaches turned out to be our dearest way of preparing them.
Another recipe, another flavour, decadent in every way, enjoyed after lunch with a glass of chilled muscat wine marked this summer and will be the one to turn back to, to relive those precious moments over and over again.
Oven baked peaches with honey
4 peaches, stoned and sliced
2 tbsp honey
10 g butter, sliced
Place sliced peaches on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Drizzle each slice with honey and put a tiny morsel of butter on the top of each slice. Bake at 180 °C for half an hour, until the peaches are tender.
Serve warm with fresh yoghurt and granola for breakfast or with some vanilla ice cream as an after lunch treat. Keep them covered in the fridge for one day. Take them out half an hour before serving to warm up to room temperature.