Ripe fruit and the poetry of John Keats – I don’t know when the association began (perhaps while drowning in the pleasure of his sensuous imagery during my literature classes in college in hot and dusty India, as far away from Keats’s England as one could get); but strangely it’s a concept that makes some kind of weird logic in my head. One of the high priests of the Romantic movement, Keats was a worshipper of beauty. No doubt you must’ve heard his famous line, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”. While his poems have a deeper, more profound character,
their first and most obvious attractions drip with rich, plump, sensuous images, musical notes and heady smells.” Perhaps it is lines such as “a mermaid in seaweed”, “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness / Close bosom friend of the maturing sun”, and his almost tactile descriptions of candied apple quince, plum, jelly, manna, languorous ladies and their luxurious boudoirs or even the way sunlight or moonlight would touch a breast or bathe the beloved, that created this connection in my head. Whatever the reason, I cannot shake off the connection and in fact rather enjoy it. It even inspired me to whip up a breakfast dish that felt like a Keatsian treat.
Summer has blessed my basket with a rich harvest of pineapples, peaches, watermelons, grapes and nectarines. Their fragrance pervades my kitchen – every time I pass by the fruit bowl on the table, the pineapples throw a juice-filled,sunshine-sweet balloon, splat on my brain, clouding it in pineapple flavoured fog. And the nectarines- blushing, smooth-skinned, and moistly rounded, are quintessentially Keatsian and for that reason I cannot resist them. Their shape, taste and texture tells me that they’re born from the peach and plum’s passionate love affair (botany no doubt will disagree with me). Whatever their lineage, they’re juicy and sweet, just like their beautiful, poetic name.
I used fresh, ripe nectarines to make a delightfully simple yet texturally rich breakfast. If you can’t get hold of nectarines, peaches or plums would work equally well. I also used Greek yoghurt for its plush consistency but you could substitute it with low-fat natural yoghurt. Actually there’s hardly any real cooking involved; it’s more about assembling. So try this on a hot summer day for breakfast or brunch in your balcony or a quiet corner of your garden with a volume of John Keats’s stirring verses.
- 8 ripe nectarines halved and stones discarded
- 250 g store-bought crunchy granola or muesli
- 250 g tub of Greek yoghurt
- 11/2 tbsps dark brown sugar
- Preheat the broiler to 200 degrees C. Place halved nectarines skin side down on a shallow dish or lightly greased baking tray and sprinkle with brown sugar. Grill under the broiler for 15-20 minutes till the tops are lightly charred and oozing juices. Remove and cool for 10 minutes.
- Place nectarines (4 halves per person) in bowls, top with granola and yoghurt. Pour pan juices over and serve.