The hunger season

Summer finally relented and loosed its grip the other day, stepping aside in favor of the coming autumn’s cool.

I didn’t need to wake with the chill of a fall morning begging me to pull more blankets over me to know that the seasonal torch had been passed, though. I knew it because I felt hungry from the moment my eyes opened.

Something seems to have been skipped in the evolution of my family’s genetics that lets most other people in our part of the countryside know that they don’t have to eat more to pack on some extra stored energy in preparation for the coming cold weather. That lack of evolution puts me somewhere close to our region’s bear population, which about now is getting busy with eating everything in sight to have enough stored to get them through a couple months of foodless hibernation.

I’m always hungry this time of the year. I start to lust for and dream about warm apple pie a la mode. Come to think of it, the pie doesn’t even have to be warm.

Some people develop cases of wanderlust. I develop a serious case of hungerlust.

No food is off-limits to my culinary salivation; even lutefisk starts to look and smell borderline savory. Yes, it’s that serious, though I think mostly about the wonderful taste of melted butter covering my helping of lutefisk.

A salad or a brat or a burger can suffice on a warm summer days. But roasts, stews, goulashes and chowders are required when the chill arrives on the northwest breezes.

Whether you serve hotdish in casseroles or casseroles in hotdish bowls doesn’t matter. They taste especially good when the cool weather settles in.

During this season the primal instincts of harvesting, gathering and storing food gush from the medulla oblongata. And we watch in a moment of unspoken empathy as squirrels bound from tree to tree in search of the next acorn or walnut, only to consider moments later the many tasty ways squirrels can be served.

All that constant hunger comes just in time for every church’s harvest supper. Pigeon Falls, Osseo, Elk Creek, Bruce Valley, Ettrick, Pleasant Valley, Arcadia, Blair, North Bend, Pine Creek, Whitehall and all the others serve the best food known to humans – it all of such meat-and-potatoes basics yet so incredibly savory.

Oh, the meatballs.

Oh, the mashed potatoes.

Oh, the lefse.

Oh, the rutabagas.

Oh, the gravy.

And, I guess, even oh the lutefisk swimming in a bath of melted butter.

The pie. I mustn’t forget the pie. And the dessert-bars which, when both are available, live on a different course than the pie – eating a bar doesn’t mean a piece of pie also shouldn’t be eaten.

This is the time of year when folks roast whole hogs in celebration of anything from a wedding to the simple fact that a hog is available for roasting. I don’t need too many celebration excuses for the need to roast a whole hog.

It’s the time when orchards roll out their year’s apple harvests and their nutritious ciders. Did I mention that I love a nice piece of warm apple pie, a la mode, with a tall glass of cold milk on the side?

The issue is with those pumpkins, too. They’re not only good for jack-o-lanterns and shooting out of air-cannons (yes, I have) – they also make for great pies (topped with whipped cream and a tall glass of cold milk on the side, if you don’t mind).

All of that’s even before Thanksgiving, that most real seasonal food celebration, is considered.

Oh, the turkey.

Oh, the ham.

Oh, the mashed potatoes.

Oh, the dressing.

Oh, the gravy.

Oh, the pies apple and pumpkin – and even pecan.

Those thoughts swirl in my mind like whipping cream atop a mug of hot chocolate as I prepare to step through the doorway and get some exercise out on our ridge. Perhaps that bit of a workout will help burn away some of the extra calories I’ve already been ingesting through my every sense. Most likely, though, it only will make me a little hungrier for this evening’s supper.

I think it’s a meatloaf night. I hope apple pie is involved, too – a la mode with a tall glass of cold milk on the side, if you don’t mind.

 

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