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Thick, juicy plums of rain are falling on the grass surrounding the towering Ponderosa Pines outside my window. Incessant… drop… glop… plop…

The overnight stream has brought out a mass congregation of nasty Flickers and Starlings that terrorize the songbird woodhouses and my peoplehouse with their stabbing sword-beaks.

Their frontal assault began at first light and may not diminish until the first chirpy sounds of evening crickets begin their nightly symphony.

A solo humpty-dumpty magpie causes a large limb to dip and sway like an ocean liner in a sea swell as orchardist neighbour Devon roars past on his space-age enclosed tractor, sending up a fine cloud of misty rainspray .

This combination of rain and the official commencement of fall (I prefer the word AUTUMN – “fall” makes me envision little elder ladies on city streets tumbling to the sidewalk beside their unsteady walkers) trains my eyes inshore, into the ovenly warmth of the bright, now inviting kitchen.

Hot summer kitchens are best used for short social visits, the throwing together of light airy salads and icy slushed drinks – then rushed to the outside patio for immersion in the sounds and perfume of summer.

Fresh, citrus-laced lettuces, spinach, and juicy grape tomatoes generously layered with light amber olive oil and feta… ahhhhhh …. yes, I already lament the dwindle of summer, even a campfire-scented smoky one like this year’s in the Okanagan Valley.

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But, let’s return to the autumn kitchen… inviting and open-arms ready for laughter and aroma, thin and thick sauce lines, slipping from summer gewurtztraminers into more autumn’ish pinot noirs, drawing us inside the world of culinary dance, the friendly tangle of spice upon spice, gossamer walls of taste…

My autumn and winter kitchen revolves on a daily basis around a global trail of flavour.

I was raised in a WASP’y home of routine Friday evening bacon and eggs, Sunday roast beef and oven-browned potatoes. Ham and scalloped potatoes, meatloaf, shepherd’s pie.

One flag flew over our repasts and it was the stolid Union Jack. Hail Brittanica!

Today, multi-toned flags are drawn down each evening, changed, and raised anew each day in my kitchen. The Maple Leaf and the Union Jack are mere temporary apparitions, akin to AirBnB guests.

My restless taste buds, like Anthony Bourdain’s culinary travels, wander the continents and back alleys of dusty towns.

The thought of some routines is comforting, but when it comes to food choices, I crave a unique flavour palette each day that doesn’t come back around for at least a week, preferably longer.

The decision gets harder and harder in recent years as more and more ethnicities contribute to the menu board. A short 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of my home floating with the scents of:

  • Morocco
  • Peru
  • Nicaragua
  • Korea
  • Cuba
  • Thailand
  • Syria

And yet, here I have this autumn, a cupboard jammed with spices, sauces, grains and noodles whose names I can barely pronounce.

In my younger days, my international standards were “exotic” French Onion Soup and Italian Lasagna. A pinch or two of oregano, basil, garlic and thyme were sufficient spicing for these delicacies.

I saw myself as a crazily adventurous cook when I prepared an Indian Lamb Rogan Josh, Mexican Chorizo Frittata con Queso, Spanish Paella Valenciana.

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My 1960’s family would have thought we were living in a Back to the Future world if presented with these nose-bombing dishes. Eyes widened in a disbelieving shock and awe. I would be playing Marty McFly in real life. Cue Huey Lewis & The News…

But here we are in the 2010’s and the local horn-of-plenty is literally overflowing with pungency and aromatic bouquet beyond belief.

What does Martha Stewart say again? And that’s a good thing!

Of course there is a down side to this cornucopia.

Having a wide range of ingredients and spice combinations as well as the decision of including meat protein or running the vegan road, makes choosing a dish du jour über challenging.

So, whether it becomes Beef Vindaloo, Indio Viejo, Sushi, Falafel, Moros y Cristianos, Lomo Saltado, Bibimbap, Vegetable Tajine, Perogies, or Tourtière just don’t matter a wit. The end result is always (OK, usually!) a thrilling delicacy of flavours.

When the drizzles, showers or torrents of water descend from the September or October heavens and the daylight grows smaller, it just feels saintly to cocoon and welcome a sliver of some other culture into my kitchen.

You could spend thousands of dollars to jet to the culinary locale of choice… get the full adventure… or go the budget route and knock the price down to a mere few bucks. And for that handful of moments, experience the backstreets of Delhi or Cusco or Casablanca in the heady scents emanating from your oven.

So yeah, so long summer … bring on those autumn rains!

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