Food Paired With Art Series…The vignettes.. “because every good bit of food and drink deserves a pairing with art, and every bit of good art has a story behind it that ages and mellows in the minds of and retelling by the table guests..” (–The Swedish Artist Chef) ..to go with Painting 1 out of 12.
There’s a barn missing its door…the crack of a wet maple twig above me…The slip of my shoes on the yellow leaves slick in the dark mud of November.
The old apple lady who lived in the orchard next door used to take walks down this way. She always looked down. Except when she sold me apples in her press yard. Braeburn, Gala, Fuji… She sliced up samples and told me which variety leaned toward the nutmeg side and which leaned toward the sweet side. She probably saw me sneak some apples into my jacket which I did not pay for, but she never said a word. She was different in her press yard. Alive, cheery, eyes up.
She had been at one time in love with the dairy farmer who lived a little further down the mountain. He was a man who loved his cows, who sang to them and cooed at them and knew their names and body language.
He rented this old barn up here to store his cheese wheels. He always maintained that cheese aged at a higher altitude was better cheese, and this barn was the place to do that. There had been a door on it at that time…
Then one year, just before Thanksgiving time, we stopped seeing his frumpy old Chevy scrapping up the gravel path, payload full of cheese wheels wrapped tenderly in cloth. The fruit of the loins of his lovely Gilda and Rhang and Sweet Sis.
That was the year the old apple lady started walking this path. A lot. She walked it a lot. The barn was eventually cleared out by the church men’s league and the cheeses made their way into people’s homes, who knows where. And it dawned on me that the door on the barn had been missing awhile. I thought nothing of it.
Except one day when all my friends were busy and I had no one to play with, the compunction hit me to go and explore that barn.
So I went in. It was a cavern of emptiness and my cough echoed as I choked on the spider webs in the entry. And there it was…Right in the center of the wide open floor: A freshly sliced Boeurwich cheese wheel spread out on a wrinkled cheese cloth. There were two wine glasses there, and a Newbrunswick apple, sliced with the Boeurwich.
No people, no sign of anyone sitting next to the food, just an empty barn with an autumn picnic glowing with bright color in the dim of fog.
I backed out of the barn and made sure my shoes slid out of the doorway without making a sound.
From that day on I always paid for my apples.