Friday, December 13, 2019

The Forager’s Calendar and Żubrówka Vodka

Friday the 13th (today is my birthday) really feels like it’s trying to do a number on me so far. Between election results which I cannot celebrate, my mother coming down with a really nasty bug (she was going to cook, she’s a brilliant cook, and whilst the food will wait she’s had such a run of bad health recently that I’m worried about her, and we’re really going to miss her company tonight), uninspiring weather, and the knitting needles I really need for the project I’m itching to start being somewhere in the postal system it’s tempting to crawl back to bed. Possibly with the whisky I was given.

 But that really won’t make anything better so onwards. Helen has posted a John Donne poem about St Lucies day Here which I’ve found unexpectedly cheering. Under the old calendar the 13th would have been more or less the midwinter solstice. These might be the darkest days, but the year will turn soon - and that returning light is why on the whole I find winter a hopeful time.

Meanwhile today’s book recommendation is John Wright’s The Forager’s Calandar: A Seasonal Guide to Nature’s Wild Harvest’. This came out in the spring (the paperback is due in April, which is what I’m waiting for if nobody fancies giving it to me for Christmas) and is Barbour* jacket pocket size. John Wright’s River Cottage handbooks have been reliably delightful as well as useful and this book follows on nicely from that.

Perfect for everyone from the person who would just like to know more about what they’re looking at out on a walk, to anyone with legitimate concerns about what Brexit might do to the supply chain, and all of those in-between. Wright is an excellent guide, and crucially he’s enjoyable to read as well as informative.

It doesn’t look like I’ve written about Żubrówka (Polish Bison grass flavoured vodka) before, but it’s something I’m quite fond of. Poles are good at flavoured vodka, and I’m very much in favour of drinking it by the shot straight out of the freezer as well. (Krupnik honey vodka is another favourite, and going into any Polish shop is an education when it comes to flavoured vodkas.) Żubrówka makes me think of freshly mown grass (which is what you’d expect from something flavoured with grass) it’s distinctive but not overpowering, and does work well in cocktails, but I really like it best on its own, very cold, and drunk straight down, pickles in the side are a good thing too.

*I have a bit of a thing for the Barbour border coat, waxing it might be a pain, but the poachers pockets will comfortably accommodate 4 bottles of wine, the outer pockets are proper book size, and you can more or less pack the thing for a weekend away.


  1. A belated happy birthday, Hayley! I hope you did enjoy it despite everything.

    Glad you found the Donne poem cheering. It is very dark and melancholy but I too found it comforting somehow. Perhaps it's the difference in perspective.

    1. I did, thank you. It was the difference, or maybe lengthening, of perspective. Or maybe it’s that misery loves company. Either way I’ve come out the last few days dismayed by many things, but relieved by the country finally having a decisive conclusion to a vote even if it’s one I hate.