Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue
She Wore Blue Velvet
Devil With a Blue Dress On
Am I Blue?
There was no pink for me. No ruffles, no shades of girly pastel the color of bubble gum and strawberry milkshakes. No yellow intruded.
No gaudy, blindingly bright blaze of yellow to distract. No yellow the color of daffodils, bananas, lemons or rain slickers.
There wasn’t a dot of orange, neither the wishy-washy, uncertain orange of creamsicles or the bold, brash, rather hideous orange of one’s morning juice, the uneven, dimpled rind of the fruit. No faded, pale color of apricot flesh and bridesmaids’ dresses.
My white wedding would be tainted with no red, although passion was the word of the day. Red, or so I had been told, was bad luck at weddings. Fingers crossed. The blush on the bride’s cheek, glowing crimson, the beating heart of the bridegroom was all the red needed.
And there would be no green. Lilypads and shamrocks may very well bring luck; sweeping fields of freshly mown grass may smell sweetly of spring. Lizards, frogs and toads may titillate the nature lover in my new husband, yet are better left unthought of. Sage may be pleasant, moss soothing, chartreuse daring, emerald regal, apple amusing but I left the green of a childhood bedroom far behind.
My white, white wedding was in shades of blue. Lavender, sapphire, periwinkle, peacock. Faithfulness, loyalty, confidence and unity. Blue to match the brilliant azure sky above, the wild waves of cobalt of our seaside weekend, the crystal clear cerulean waters along the white rocky shore of an island honeymoon. The blue of his eyes.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
Raising little boys, one does learn the ins and outs of everything childlike, stirring up memories of our own youthful interests. And discovering new ones. The Smurfs. Those silly little blue creatures scurrying through picture books and scampering across the tv screen. The same everywhere, from country to country as we pick up and move, only the name changes. The Smurfs become Les Schtroumpfs in France become I Puffi in Italy. Husband and sons gaily sing the theme song in one language or the other, even as their desire to watch the show or read the comics dimmed and faded.
But living in Italy, one surprise awaited us. From out of the blue (in a manner of speaking), gelaterie across the country began selling a new flavor of ice cream, gelato, called Puffi. Schtroumpf. Smurf. A blue the color of the tiny gnomes, a deep cerulean that had customers ogling, pointing, snickering. Many afraid to taste, turning down one of the tiny spoons proffered.
What is the flavor of deep blue gelato named after a comic book character? One wondered if it was made of actual Smurfs, Puffi, Schtroumpfs… and if so, which ones. Or was it blueberry, raspberry, blackberry or vanilla? Like blue Slurpees, blue Slush Puppies, blue Flav-or-Ice or Mr. Freeze?
Blueberries, blackberries, Hanukkah cookies, blue lobster, blue m & m’s
I remember reading a tale of a large reception dinner one famous self-styled lifestyle expert gave for the Queen of Sweden. For dessert, she (the queen) had prepared (for the Queen) elegant yet homey blueberry tarts. Those tarts, as the story goes, were enjoyed by one and all. And as the hostess with the mostess went up to the Queen to pay her respects as her Highness was leaving, a smile passed between the two women. And only then did the caterer, the lifestyle guru, realize her mistake. The Queen’s grin was as deep a blue as a windswept sky, the waters of a stormy sea, the blue the color of a blueberry pie.
Little fingers and lips stained blue, a day of picking wild berries.
The limpid blue of the sky meeting translucent, glittering blue water one September morning as I stood on the rocks and stared, mesmerized, into the distance. Cyprus, a honeymoon trip, white rocks dropping straight down into the water, piercing blue skies uncluttered by clouds. Watery blue calm. A hint of the future.
Doors and window frames painted blue, the color of heaven, keeping evil away.
“How would you like your steak, madame?” the waiter glances in my direction, a smile softening the features of his otherwise stern face. “Bleu” I answer him as I snap shut the menu. Carnivore that I am, how I love my red meat blue… bleu or saignant, simply one or two steps up from tartare. Bloody good!
Allez les bleus! The French team, whether rugby, soccer, handball or tennis… are Les Bleus. The Blues. Bleu blanc rouge without the blanc and the rouge.
Blue cheese had the power to chase my younger brother from the house screaming with its heady piquant scent that seemed to pervade well into the corners of every room, hang in the air and envelop one and all in a musty, earthy, feral wild animal fug. Blues from midnight to turquoise, elegantly marbled like the best Italian floors, well defined veins a disorderly spatter. Or mad streaks splayed out recklessly, smearing the once pristine white now the color of faded, washed-out jeans. Brevibacterium linens. The blues might very well be the most expressive, the most emotional of all cheeses.
All blue cheeses are not equal. Roquefort, Fourme d’Ambert, gorgonzola, Stilton, Bleu de Gex; sweeter, saltier, milder, stronger. Bold or timid. Sharp and tangy, insistent. Velvety smooth, mellow. Seductive and very intense, the glance of a yet-to-be lover.
Pair the chosen bleu with an audacious red wine or a harmonious white with a touch of the fruity. Or how about ye olde stout or ale? A slice of sweet pear, crisp apple or a seductive cluster of grapes. A dark, bitter chocolate nibbled upon while sampling les bleu; well, why not? Or toss a handful or two of the cheese (coarsely hacked into cubes) into a fondue, a lively, vibrant dance upon the tongue.
The excitement mounts. Elves bustle from room to room, digging out decorations, hiding gifts, grinning impishly as they slither and slide ever-so discreetly from room to room. Cupped hands around whispering lips, winks and nudges the latest form of communication; the glee is uncontrollable and contagious as the countdown to the first candle begins.
Each year as Hanukkah approaches, we eschew the seasonal reds and greens for blue. Buttery cookies in festive shapes, six-pointed stars and menorahs, dreidls and Maccabee soldiers are edged in sweet blue icing. Shimmering garlands of shiny blue and silver are strung from lamps and hung in swags along the mantelpiece. Pale blue felt cutouts in holiday shapes join the party. Some may go as far as to collect pretty blue, silver and white glass balls usually found nestled in the green of a Christmas tree, arranging them instead around the Menorah on a table strewn with glittery gold-foil-wrapped chocolate Hanukkah gelt.
Soon, the merry sound of latkes sizzling will fill the house as a rambunctious round or two of dreidl is played out, peanuts or M & M’s passed hand to hand, losers to winner, edible prizes pooled around our impatient fingers itching for our turn to spin the top.
There was a series of blue shirts. He knew that wearing a blue shirt brightened and brought out the blue of his eyes. And he knew that drove me crazy. The first two came with him to our marriage, an odd wedding trousseau one can say. Both horrid. A well worn ridged tank top that had seen many a summer since he was a teen, a well-worn ridged tank top now in faded navy, stretched and rather sordid. A box of smudged and discolored photographs show him in that tank top and bell bottom jeans on a summer working holiday, pushing wheelbarrows, lifting stones, laughing among friends sitting cross legged in the dirt. The other was a hideous bright blue button-up in a slithery, shiny polyester that slipped around in the drawer and quickly became a favorite joke.
A stunning deep turquoise shirt that I picked out, the first we purchased together as a couple, is still tucked into his drawer amid so many others. A rich turquoise blue with a black and pale blue pattern in squiggles up and down, back and forth, a shirt that makes his eyes glow, although he isn’t aware of the effect. A nubbly white cotton with baby blue flecks, a dark marine blue with long sleeves and mysterious black symbols, a formal shirt for work to be worn with his suit with thin but firm blue pinstripes running up and down. One after the next, blue became a fetish color… my fetish. I am drawn to the blue as they hang on store racks when searching for a gift for him. I gently yet insistently guide him, coax him to the blues when we shop together. Year in and year out, I select blues; any shade will do. But it has to be blue. Long or short sleeve, summer or winter, he collects blue shirts like I collect shoes.
The last blue shirt in his closet was my brother’s. I had grabbed the last stack of shirts tucked away in the drawer in my brother’s old childhood bedroom at our mother’s house, our childhood home, his last home. A stack of casual shirts in tropical prints that I knew would suit my husband fine. Within was one blue. A regular blue, a traditional baby boy’s blue, just an ordinary old blue, sporting midnight blue shapes like old Aztec or Mayan figures, a fascination for my husband. He wears the shirt now for strolls through town, walks along the river, weekends away. And I think of my brown-eyed brother.
When I was a kid, I used to pretend that that the blueberries I picked and put in a glass jar were like the peanuts of Super Goof (the only character in Donal Duck that I liked) but nowadays I prefer my blueberries in a pie and if they are found in this pie, I'm the happiest of all. The cinnamon in the crust works so well with the blueberries and the hint of apple gives it a depth of flavour that I love!
ILVA'S BLUEBERRY PIE
100 g / 3.5 oz salted butter
100 ml / 0.42 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
400 ml / 1.7 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
450 g/16 oz blueberries, I used fresh but frozen ones should work well too but you might need to increase the cornstarch with another tablespoon of corn starch if the blueberries are watery.
1/2 apple, peeled and finely grated
4 tbs sugar
3 tbs corn starch
Prepare the crust. First stir the butter and the sugar until smooth, then add 1 egg yolk at a time. Add flour, cinnamon and baking powder, work the dough quickly until it keeps together. If you have the time, you can let the dough rest for 30 minutes before pressing out the dough in a tart pan. Keep around 1/3 of the dough to roll out and use as a lid on the pie.
Add cornstarch and sugar to the the blueberries and the grated apple in a bowl. Mix well and then fill the pie crust with it all, make it a bit higher in the middle. Roll out the rest of the dough to a circle and put it on top of the pie, nipping the seams together all around.
Bake the tart in a pre-heated oven (175°C/350°F) for 25-30 minutes. Serve it cold as it is or with custard.