The plum and cherry trees have gone green, releasing their petals in impromptu, lavish showers that would make a wedding planner weep for joy. The wisteria has now picked up the slack.
In the French countryside, no well is dug without a water dowser's sanction. This particular water witch has a sterling reputation, and charm to spare. Originally a healer with thirty year's experience, he has been finding water for the last twenty years. Apparently it is common for dowsers to have healing capabilities (the things you learn!). This Monsieur turned to water dowsing not too long after his name was published without his consent. Described as one of the 100 most skilled healers of France--you can now find that information online--he was besieged with visitors, a number of whom were sent by 'regular' doctors. He was busy from morning til night, laying hands on people who patiently queued to see him. He treated people for everything from the rather mundane, such as plantar's warts, to the more serious, like alleviating the side-effects of radiation therapy. He would even help people by telephone, like those with serious and not-so-serious burns.
He explained that it's simply about sensing magnetic energies. After a while, the work with people became too much for him, and he turned to water, which he found less demanding. To find water, he uses two copper rods, as well as two kinds of pendulums. He turns first in a circle with the pendulum with his arm outstretched to determine which direction to go, waiting for the pendulum to begin rotating. Once he has determined the direction to take, he heads off rather briskly, with his rods held horizontally parallel. (He stopped using forked branches after the wood kept scraping his palms once it 'responded' vigorously to the presence of water.) The metal rods turn in toward each other and cross once he passes over a source of water. Once the point of water is established, he determines the depth of the water using either his wood or his metal pendulum.
|Freshly dug parsnip, carrot and salsify (for with the spring lamb roast).|
Kind of like this salad, which will amaze you with its lightness, and its lush, addictive blend of flavors. It will please you here and now, when you're looking for something both delicious and healthy, and well into the barbecue'n'picnic days. The interplay of crunch and juice, of mint, orange, fennel and mild, pre-soaked onion? Quite simply bewitching.
Salade de fenouil à l'orange (Minted Orange, Fennel and Red Onion Salad)*Serves 6.
1 scant teaspoon whole coriander seeds
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons Banyuls vinegar, Sherry vinegar or other good-quality white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion
1 large fennel bulb
3 large oranges (navel or other variety with few seeds)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
Heat a dry small heavy skillet over medium-high heat, then add and toast coriander seeds, stirring, until fragrant and a little darker, about two or three minutes. With a mortar and pestle, grind coriander to a coarse powder. In a jar, combine coriander and remaining dressing ingredients. (Dressing may be made in advance and chilled, covered).
Using a very sharp knife or mandoline, slice onion crosswise into paper-thin rings, then soak the sliced onion in a bowl of cold water, for about 15 minutes. Next, prepare the oranges: cut a slice from the top and bottom of each orange to expose the flesh, then place cut side down on a cutting board. From top to bottom, cut away peel and pith, then cut oranges crosswise into thin slices. While the onion is soaking, move on to the fennel: tremove any stalks from the fennel then slice bulb crosswise as thinly as possible. Finally, drain onion well.
Arrange orange, shaved fennel and onion on the serving plate and top with mint. Shake jar of dressing to emulsify then drizzle over salad.
* From Gourmet magazine, February 1995 issue.