Wild fennel, a taste of yellow

by Sarah on July 23, 2012

fennel pollen with bread and butter

A cool breeze on a warm day, a smile from a stranger, the hiccuping laugher of a baby.

Too many times it passes unnoticed. There are bills to pay, milestones to reach, personal struggles to overcome and a lifetime of responsibilities. It’s hard to step aside as everyone else seems to be gaining momentum and the competitive edge. But if you do, these moments will be remembered forever.

fennel flowers

This is a lesson I was taught when a friend, Dina, succumbed to cancer. She was my age, with three young children. It could have been me.  This experience was a deciding factor on how I would live my life. Recently Barbara Harris, a fellow food blogger, lost her fight after an 8 year struggle with this same omnipresent disease. I never met her in person but followed her loosely on twitter and occasionally visited her blog. Despite this very small connection I had the deepest respect for her. She reminded me so much of Dina who never complained even when her prognosis was dim, even when she was in pain. Damn it, she would enjoy every minute in this world and not waste her precious time in self-pity. It was the same with Barbara.

outdoors in Israel playing guitar

Barbara not only continued her daily battles but contributed to the Lance Armstrong’s LiveStrong Foundation with the Taste of Yellow, an online community event to raise cancer awareness. To pay tribute to Barbara, Meeta and Jeanne have dedicated July’s Monthly Mingle to this important cause.

When the little annoyances get to me- the heat, a messy house, a car in the garage, a dog that won’t stop barking, I remember that my life isn’t so rough. Last weekend we ignored the sink full of dishes and the piles of laundry. Instead we spent the day outdoors to enjoy the simple things. Everything else could wait.

sarig spring near jerusalem, summer in israel

 

fennel pollen with bread and butter

Bread and butter dusted with fennel pollen

 

The truth is, it is way too hot to do any baking in the summer so I bought a lovely loaf of French bread at Dallal Bakery in Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek neighborhood. They also have wonderful croissants and other pastries. If you do feel like making it from scratch you can use the recipe here.

The flora of Israel is reduced to a few core plants during Israel’s hot months with fennel, za’atar and capers the rare species that flower during this period. These plants play an important role in the local ecology, being one of the only sources of food for bees and other insects.  On our hike to the Ein Sapir and Ein Sarig springs near Jerusalem we passed large patches of fennel in full bloom. While I had many ideas to use this wild edible in elaborate ways-from Hollandaise sauce to elegant creams -at the end I simply dusted it over buttered bread for the essence of summer. It’s wonderful like that.

fennel, wild fennel

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