Vitis, Vin: Gift of Life

Reach out a hand and take the ruby fruit, gift grown of sun and rain.

Vitis. Grapes.

Gift too of earth, of chalky soil, sloping and stone-filled, redolent with vistas and vast horizons.

Hard toil, yes — certainly this truth the hands of peasants knew. Cutting and pruning, trimming back.

Thus, from that harsh care, life blooms and grows amidst the green of summer.

Beneath lacy leaves and soft spiraling tendrils,

tiny globes pregnant with sweet nectar lie, dormant,

red as lips and

glowing golden in the dusky afternoon sun, waiting for the vintner’s sweat-soaked brow

and the slash of the curved harvest knife, a tool any ancient Roman knew well.

Then the day comes, when autumn frost teases the slender tendrils, foretelling a fate that marks each year.

All is ready now, for the crushing and the sieving.

Into oaken barrels, tight and groaning with staves, goes the hope of the man who struggles with the plow, the woman who stirs the stew over the fire, the child who longs for warmth on a cold night, the priest who lifts the chalice.

The essence of the grape, secreted in vast dusty cellars, in glass bottles and clay flagons, waits in darkness,  for the right time to arrive.

Then comes pouring out of juices like a river of blood,

igniting joy in the hearts of cooks, eaters, bread bakers, and fishermen.

Even in dryness, the fruit still nourishes, plump raisins for the breads of winter, anointed with cinnamon and sugar, dripping golden butter over eager tongues.

And so it comes to pass, wine — transformation of grapes — flavoring pottages, soups,  stews. Quenching thirsts, stalling hunger, fortifying souls for days and nights of hardship.

From soil and sun and sweat, a pearl beyond price. Food of the ancients, still sustaining, still soothing.

Vitis. Vitae.

SOLE VERONIQUE

6 fillets of sole, skinned and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc
3/4 cup seedless green grapes
1 cup cream sauce, made with 2 T.  butter, 2 T.  flour, and 1 cup cream

Grease a glass or ceramic baking dish and preheat oven to 350 F. Place the sole fillets in the baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice and pour the wine over the top. Cover pan with parchment paper and bake for 12 -15 minutes. Make the cream sauce while the fish is baking.

Remove fish from the oven and turn on the broiler. Pour the thickened cream sauce over the top and add the grapes. Broil until top is golden brown and sauce bubbles slightly, a few minutes at the most.

The earth resides in the food we eat … and therefore in us.
© 2011 Cynthia D. Bertelsen
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6 comments

  1. What a wonderful tribute to the glorious grape, Cynthia. Absolutely stunning. This post just may be my favorite. (Yes, I have a weakness for good wine:)

    Thank you so much for sharing…

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