Feasts for the Solstice
Tonight at 7:59 p.m. ET, the skies officially change hands and become the property of Summer, the belle of all the seasonal balls, in this Lioness's opinion (birthday: August 22). It is the longest day, with the greatest number of daylight hours, and it is the brightest and mightiest day, when the sun reaches its maximum elevation.
For the ultimate sun-powered solstice experience, Fairbanks, Alaska sounds like the place to be. Tonight (well, tomorrow morning, actually) at 12:48 a.m. local time, the sun takes a short nap (it doesn't even fall below the horizon!) until 2:58 a.m. when it re-emerges for another day. (And if you've ever participated in a Midnight Sun extravaganza, please share your stories -- I'd love to hear what's it like to play outside at that hour!)
I love the following description of the solstice, found on The Witches' Voice, an online network for Pagans, Heathens, Witches and Wiccans:
Midsummer is the time when everything is abundant and flourishing. Flowers smell their sweetest, colors are their most vibrant, trees are their greenest, berries are their sweetest, and faeries are their most playful, it is the time that nature's lavishness has reached a pinnacle point
So we've got the sun at its maximum, nature spilling over with both visual and edible riches and the longest dang day of the year. Does this mean Fairbanks residents eat four meals instead of a square three? And what would be appropriate fare to pay tribute to the longest, brightest and mightiest day of the year?
Or should we celebrate with food the color of the sun -- a sunny side-up egg, an ear of sweet golden corn, a pot of polenta, a saffron rice pilaf or perhaps an orange creamsicle?
I asked my kid brother Tim, who lives in sultry Key West, what he might eat tonight to celebrate the solstice, and his reply was: "Watermelon. I've been seeing guys selling them on the back of their trucks lately, and it just feels right."
He might be onto something. A ripe, juicy melon, grown out of a tangle of vines, is a product of the sun, encouraged by its mama's warm, intense rays to become fully developed, sweet and beautiful. As a result, whenever I slurp on melon or a peach, I feel like the sun is kissing me on the forehead.
From melon, my mind's eye travels to the vined webs of cucumbers, zucchini (don't overlook their sun-like blossoms, heavenly lightly sauteed and stuffed with a smidge of mascarpone!) and eggplant, then onto peppers, pole beans and basil, standing bright and proud. I move into the orchard, where stone fruit awaits -- cherries, plums and nectarines -- and I can't help but think about the sweetening power of the mighty sun.
Could there be more fitting fare to salute one of the hardest-working planets? You tell me: What's your ideal solstice feast? Who's there, where is it taking place, and most importantly, will there be dancing in the woods like Shakespearean fairies?
Be kind and courteous to this gentleman.
Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes;
Feed him with apricocks and dewberries,
With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries;
The honey-bags steal from the humblebees,
And for night tapers crop their waxen thighs,
And light them at the fiery glowworm's eyes,
To have my love to bed and to arise;
And pluck the wings from painted butterflies
To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act III, Scene I
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