It says quite clearly in The Bible that thou shalt not covet your neighbour’s ox or his ass or, in fact, anything belonging to your neighbour. I am as sure as I can be that our lovely neighbours (as in, Matt And
Jackie Next Door) don’t possess an ox or an ass which we might secretly covet, were we so minded, but Mr B, not having read the Book of Exodus, has something rather more delicious on his mind.
In short, our neighbours’ cherry tree has borne fruit in quite spectacular proportions, leading Mr B to cast covetous glances over the fence. Our own cherry tree has been a great disappointment to him (as well as to
me.) The very few cherries it has produced have been quickly snaffled by the birds who, presumably, haven’t read The Book of Exodus either or they would know not to covet our cherries. What is more our cherry tree is now suffering from something called
cherry leaf curl as a result of visiting - and, presumably, covetous - aphids. No wonder Mr B is coveting our neighbours’ fruit.
Jackie Next Door, who knows
all about Mr B’s predilection for cherries, messages me to ask how many we would like. I decide not to ask Mr B because he would doubtless ask for a tree-full. “As many as you can spare,” I respond, diplomatically, not wanting to sound too
covetous, you understand.
Jackie has asked her family and friends what she should do with such a munificent harvest and the main suggestion appears to be
cherry pie. Shall I make us all a cherry pie for Thursday, I ask, which we can eat with custard, cream or ice-cream according to taste when we get together at ours to watch England play Belgium in the footie? It will keep us quiet for a while though not for
long if Harry Kane has anything to do with it.
Jackie Next Door seems to think this is an excellent idea, if only so that she can see what a cherry pie should
look and taste like. She sends me a picture of the cherries which she will bring over sometime before Thursday. It belatedly occurs to me that I have never actually made a cherry pie with anything other than cherry pie filling but I’m sure I can pull
it off. If Nigella can do it, so can I. Those cherries deserve to be baked in the Prince of Pies.
I explain what I am planning to Mr B who gazes at me with
a look of sheer horror on his face. Sacrilege! his expression says, more clearly than any words. Can I really be thinking of consigning those magnificent cherries to a saucepan, heating them up, wrapping them in pastry, and cooking them? Cherries are meant
to be eaten straight from the tree, just as they are. They are not a mere ingredient in a recipe, they are a Mouthful of Sheer Delight, intended to tickle the taste buds, every single one to be savoured for its freshness, its flavour and its evocation of Summers
Past when Mr B and his pals were wont to go a-scrumping in the local cherry orchards.
We have reached an Compromise. I will make a smaller pie than planned
while Mr B will act as my Cherry Taster. It will be a case of one in the pie, one (or two, if he can get away with it) in the mouth. Justice will not only be done, but will be seen to be done. Justice, in short, will be served.
Rather like my cherry pie.