Autumn and Winter rival each other to be my favourite season; every year I don’t know which will win, but I prefer the colder temperatures of them both to the warmth of summer. Now it’s Autumn’s chance to win me to her side. The pile of conkers in the kitchen from yesterday and the scarf hanging on my door from today’s walk are an excellent start. I can see me being outdoors a lot from now on, and constantly in search of trees to marinate in the changing colours. After dark, however, it’s going to be all about the food. Rich meals, roast meats, soups, stews, and spicy crumbles, are all essential to a life of autumnal indulgence – it starts tonight with a roast ham. According to the River Cafe Cook Book: Green (Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Ebury Press, 2001, ISBN 978-0091879433), October’s seasonal foods are chestnuts, pears, polenta, pumpkin, porcini mushrooms and white truffles. I’ve been craving pumpkins since they first appeared in the shops – they remind me so much of my week spent in Canada, just over a year ago, where I was so excited to see a field of pumpkins growing as I travelled to Niagara Falls. I had thought that I’d end up cooking a straightforward pumpkin soup, but in the aforementioned River Cafe Cook Book: Green, I have found a recipe for Pumpkin and Cinnamon Risotto – Autumn isn’t Autumn without rich spices like allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise. Suddenly I feel the need to stop blogging and start bottling poached plums, and to quaff some spiced cider. On the interior decoration side, it’s time for thick curtains and owlish draught excluders.
Other Autumn essentials include ghost stories (M. R. James, that means you) and epic fantasy series. This may be the year when I finally manage to find the first volumes of Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry and A. S. Byatt’s The Quartet – The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman. And let’s not forget the wardrobe requirements – fleecy PJs, scarves, hats, gloves, and cardigans. Not all together.