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This Is Just to Say


I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

– William Carlos Williams

I subscribe to Real Simple magazine in America, which my friend Stacy mails to me along with my other magazine subscriptions. The August issue had several summer fruit recipes, among which was a plum upside down cake which looked absolutey beautiful and I was dying to try.

The plum cake had been on my mind for about a week, but I hadnt seen any plums which struck my fancy. Yesterday however, Yngve and I were shopping and lo and behold we came across some plums that were grown right here in Norway!

Norway has a fairly short growing season- the bulk of whats grown here are grains- wheat, oats, barley and rye. (Norwegian Agricultural¬† Economics Research Institute.) Though there is some fruit and vegetable production, I don’t think much of it makes its way to the commerical supermarkets. As a result, almost all fruit and veg you get here is imported from somewhere else; either elsewhere in Scandinavia, Denmark or Sweden, or as far away as the United States, Africa, or South America. The fruits and vegetables in the supermarket are always labeled with where things come from and it can sometimes be a little insane how far away things come from just to get on our plates.

Ahem. Anyway, back to the plums.

Despite grain production being the highest, it seems plum production in Norway is a decent sized industry, with “between 500-1000 tons of plums produced and marketed each year”. (See this article on the International Society for Horticultural Science website: Economics of Plum Production in Norway) According to that article, Opal Plums (thats what we picked up in the supermarket) are one of the most common cultivars here in Norway- and rightfully so.

The Opal has its origins right here in Scandinavia, first developed in Sweden in the 1920’s as a cross between English and French cultivars. Opals are described as being “deliciously sweet, bite-sized dessert plums with a great color range, from sunshine yellow to deep purple, often on the same fruit.”

Apparently they are an early ripener in England, ripening almost a month earlier than other varieties, which would sort of explain why they’re just now being sold here in Norway.

So anyway… sorry about geeking out over the plums, at home I was a huge advocate of buying local produce and supporting local farms, so it makes me incredibly happy to buy “local” Norwegian produce and cook with it.

The plums ARE very sweet and delicious, its really difficult to eat only one, and I created a plum upside down cake inspired by the one in Real Simple, but used my own cake recipe and added in a few additional things.

I cooked the plums first in a pan with some butter and sugar adding a splash of this plum spirits that Yngve picked up when he was in Slovakia in June. After the cake was baked, I infused it with a simple syrup doctored up with a splash of that liquor as well. I think I cooked the plums too long initially because when I turned the cake out, some of them sort of slid off the top and they didnt look nearly as pretty as they had when I arranged them in the pan, but that could very well be because I used a rounded top cake pan thats sort of shaped like a star. It wasnt as pretty as I expected it to be, but it certainly tastes really good. I’ve posted the recipe here, I’ve created a seperate page now for recipes to make them easier to find.