Spring, flowers and panna cotta
Being born in parallel 30ºS in South of Brazil, I always experienced seasonal changes. There, they are really felt. We suffer with the strong heat of the sun in the summer, we get sad with mild autumn days, we burrow in our shelters with the winter frost to wake up with the spring winds.
They are sensations, cheerfulness and illusions linked to a certain season – summer love, autumn losses, spring dreams and all the aesthetics related to the cold, which is something that belongs to us.
Finding myself far from there but still in the tropic of capricorn, I look for the spring in the streets and parks. And, if I concentrate, I manage to have the same sensations. The wind buzzing, brouts waking up, some silent noise in the park and the birds flying around busy with their own nests. In the sidewalks, trees and bushes realeasing a new green-kind and the still remained gardens showing some roses in bloom, azaleas and rhododendros.
Because in large cities the spring cannot take over the air, the landscape and the people. It is necessary to stop, slow down, and then we can see all its strength shown in the niches found in the way. If not like that, you will only know that spring has come when you pass by a flower shop and, without any particular reason, you will choose some roses, a very colourful bouquet of freesias and will gather two branches of scented angelic flowers. You will not resist the offer of blue lisianthus. Then, even you who are not used to buying flowers, will end up with the spring in your hands.
Last Sunday, the sun invited me to set the table in the balcony for a late lunch. I played with the flowers which were bought at the shop at the corner. I improvised some salad. The dessert I had already prepared in the previous evening – panna cotta served with caramel syrup. White, cold and superb, it was the end of our lunch in the middle of the afternoon.
300ml of fresh cream milk (or fresh sour cream)
200ml of full fat milk
90g of sugar
6g of gelatine powder
1 spoon of vanilla
In a bowl you can put the milk, cream milk and sugar. Warm them but do not let them boil. Meanwhile, hydrate the gelatine with three tablespoons of cold water. Add the gelatine, when it is already hydrated, in the warm mixture. Stir it until it gets dissolved. Add vanilla. It is crucial not to boil, otherwise the gelatine will not be able to gelatinize.
Put the result you will have in small containers and take it to the fridge until it gets steady (about 4 hours). When you serve it, unmold them with a knife and cover them with caramel syrup or berries.
1 cup of icing sugar (250 ml)
2 tablespoons of butter (30ml)
1 squeezed lime
3 tablespoons of cream milk with 35% of fat (45ml)
In a pan you can warm the sugar in low-heat for about five minutes up to be melted and brown. Add butter, lime juice and cream milk. Stir it well. Remove it from the stove and leave it for two minutes.
“Spring will come even if nobody remembers its name, neither if they believe in its calendar nor if they have a garden to receive it. The inclination of the sun makes other shades; the inhabitants of the forest, these natural creatures still found around the air and the ground, they start to prepare their lives for the coming spring. (Cecília Meireles – Obra em Prosa – Volume 1, Editora Nova Fronteira – Rio de Janeiro, 1998, pág. 366. The fragment was translated only for this present text.)