Eyre Affairs

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

"Better is a dinner of herbs where love is..." ~ Jane Eyre

There is only so much holiday music I can stand listening to, so at the moment I have my Simon and Garfunkel cd in my car, and Scarborough Fair has constantly been on repeat these past few days as I drive along.

Although I have heard this song as a child, I didn't know it was a canticle from medieval times until I was in college. My advisor, Dr. Ward, was a Medievalist who taught the best Chaucer class ever, and I sat with her once on her office hours discussing this very topic. I also didn't realize that parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme were such poignant symbols until I read Hamlet in high school. Who can forget the scene when Ophelia is carrying rosemary for remembrance? It is heartbreaking.

The song is also heartbreaking...or is it? The canticle is about past lovers who were jilted and sing a duet together, telling one another they will be true lovers again if they can perform impossible tasks for one another. Then again, perhaps it is not so heartbreaking. Perhaps, if one has faith in love, these impossible tasks can be done. I would like to believe so. I really would. I must assert that I speak in general in this moment, not referencing any specific events or persons in my life: Since both lovers allude to the herbs, I think they also believe that they can overcome the impossible as well, taking the bitterness away, remembering the good times of the past, and finding strength and courage to overcome other obstacles in the way.

Parsley takes away bitterness
Sage symbolizes strength
Rosemary symbolizes remembrance
Thyme symbolizes courage

What warms my heart is anytime I cook a dish with these four herbs. I am more of a fan of dried parsley, but I love all of the other herbs fresh. I do believe in aromatherapy, and the pleasure of cooking is heightened even more as I smell these herbs when I prepare a meal. I made this dish, Simple Roasted Chicken with Truffle Oil Drizzle, recently and the rosemary and thyme are really what makes it so delicious. The truffle oil also makes it quite aromatic; I purchase mine at a specialty Italian food store. It is perfect for a holiday or for a cold winter's Sunday evening.

1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, stems reserved
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves, stems reserved
2 large onions, thickly sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 ribs celery, ends trimmed
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon truffle oil, to drizzle, optional

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Rinse the chicken well inside and out with water and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the thyme and rosemary all over the chicken and place the reserved stems inside the chicken cavity. Arrange the onion slices, carrots, celery and bay leaf in the bottom of a small roasting pan in such a way as to make a bed for the chicken to lie on. Place the chicken on the bed of vegetables, breast side up, and roast in the oven until the skin is golden brown, 30 to 45 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue to roast until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear, 30 to 45 minutes longer.
Remove the chicken from the oven and set aside to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
When ready to serve the chicken, carve into 8 pieces and serve, drizzled with truffle oil to taste. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs.


Blogger Charlie Mc said...

I love Simon and Garfunkel.

"Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon.
Going to the candidate's debate.
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you've got to choose
Every way you look at this you lose." I love that line.

Where have you gone Joe D....for real. I miss baseball!

Scarborough Fair always reminds me of "The Graduate" I love that movie.

I hope things are great for you Amester! I miss you and think of you daily.

1:30 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

/bark bark bark

who in this world cannot identify with benjamin?
and mrs robinson...heartbreaking although i didnt have any compassion for her until i was much much older.

grrrrl what are truffles? some fungus on a tree? i went to a party last year and the food was so fussy i made a roast beef sandwich before i went because i knew....

oyster shots in vodka *yeech*
black truffles and foie gras *yikes*'
cucumber soup *better than i thought*
endive stuffed with something *ick*

you get the idea. thats an invite i will pass on this year.

YOUR recipe however sounds great. thanks for the primer on the scarbourough fair meaning. happy football sunday. dear God help the falcons. lady jane, can you appreciate my pain? grrrr!


1:53 PM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Charlie ~ I miss baseball, too, especially since football season has been so disappointing! Indeed, I was crooning the lines "Rooosie, Queen of Corona" the other day; S and G are awesome. Things are great here, Charlie, and I am so glad they are the same for you! You know I wish you nothing but happiness, and I am keeping my fingers crossed about you and Caren.

RottiePooch ~ Hi pups. I love the ornament that Mayden got from Freya! Its so cute! I have a little rottie ornament on my tree; I got it when Cleo was alive and I always associate it with her. I am heading into the city this afternoon to watch the Cryboys play my Giants; I think we are gonna lose, pooch, so I am feeling the pain. Hmmm. Yeah that menu needed to be changed. How about baked oysters oreganato with vodka shots on the side, no foie gras, add in some nice roasted chicken dish (wink, wink), change the cucumber soup to vicheysoisse, and stuff the endives with something good, like peanut butter. :)

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Neil said...

I love the fact that this post went from Holiday songs to a cool recipe!

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow music from my era...and Simon and Garfunkle too :P

How about just P&J?

12:52 AM  
Blogger Ryane said...

I love the quote from Jane Eyre. I have a sampler that my great-aunt created in 1934 w/that quote on it hanging in my kitchen--great post!!

7:50 AM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Neil ~ Hmmm. Now this inspires me to write about a holiday special, like Charlie Brown, and go into a drink recipe with alcohol. ;)

Barry ~ Humph. I am mad at you for removing your blog. :P But I am glad that you are still visiting here. :) Believe it or not, this recipe is as easy and a PB&J sandwich!

7:51 AM  
Blogger Clearlykels said...

That chicken sounds so delicious. I cannot wait for spring to grow those wonderful herbs...maybe I'll be smart this year and freeze them for winter use!

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ace post...reminds me of the summer when I decided to sneak off to Kew Gardens. They now have a massive victorian herb garden there with a hut in it, and a visitor's book with the aims of collecting people's herb stories and publishing them.

Most people are quite sensible, and wrote something that had been handed down to them by mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers (and with some of the more illicit uses for herbs, fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers - see, doesn't that always happen? The men find a dodgy use for Comfrit and the women decide it makes better tea).

My garden, sparse though it is, has a huge herb trough in it for moments when I'm paying homage to Nigella (who is looking very Foxy on this week's Radio Times cover btw).


4:26 PM  
Blogger ThoughtsGalore said...

Let's start at the beginning...

Totally grew up with Simon and Garfunkel. Hippy Parents. Love the song.

Love the words...

Love Chaucer....

I'm going to put it up on my blog to listen to today...

Oh and I made my famous rosemary chicken last night. The two little ones refuse to eat more than a bite, so they had chicken breast nuggets out of the bag. Lovely.

(ps...put it in a quesadilla or in nugget form and my children will eat it...just a hint for other parents out there..lol)

Miss you sweetie.

10:42 AM  
Blogger David said...

That's one of my favorite quotes... it's actually from the bible... Proverbs 15:17 "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith." LOVE IT. It's also used to great effect in Kate Chopin's "The Awakening."

4:04 PM  
Blogger Connie said...

Thank you for the recipe - yummo. You are totally Nigella.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Bird said...

can't we have chocolate egg nog?

11:21 PM  

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