OK, that’s a hackneyed literary term but it had suited the weather.
That previous Saturday had been so warm that when I had peeled off the black armband on Saturday night it left a band of white, like under a wristwatch in a sunny clime. (The armband was worn in the opening round of cross-country running, in honour of former teammate - and sometime reader of this weblog - Tim Thomas, who died last month.)
The following Tuesday’s reversion to the worst kind of cold, drippy, endlessly drizzling Melbourne wintry weather conjured memories of the steaming hotpot-and-casserole childhood I grew up in. The thick soups, the fragrant stews, the herbed roasts, and the baking dishes bearing who knew what under that unmistakable hot pastry smell. It wasn't just my house. As I slunk home from school in that unforgettable 60s-into-70s era of post-flower-powered jazz-infused pop, rock and soul - after collecting the printed Top40 (each an ad for 3UZ with DJ cartoon on the back; Allan Lappan for breakfast, John Vertigan on afternoons) from the record counter at Muir's on the way - the agonising aromas stealing from the houses in my street taunted me so that I didn't know who was having what for dinner.
The memories led me to the McKenzie's (possibly Australia's oldest brand; slogan: For Everyday Since 1852) section in the supermarket where I picked up a 500g pack of dried green peas before moving to the cold section for a ham hock from a beast that must have auditioned for the movie based on Kenneth Cook's horror novel, Pig.
At home, the aroma was soon filling the house like those days of old, following this recipe:
Boil entire pack of peas in plenty of water for 40 minutes, skimming as necessary. Saute a large diced onion and a crushed clove of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add: 3 medium diced carrots; 2 large diced celery sticks; a peeled and diced potato; the smoked ham hock; a bay leaf (optional); 8 cups of water and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for a couple of hours. Stir occasionally.
Remove ham hock and pull meat apart; return to soup. Make croutons from bread fried in butter.