Here in Franconia its Cherry season.
Before I moved to Germany, when someone said cherry season, I always thought of the opening of the cherry blossoms on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Each spring there is a magical time when the blossoms open and all the trees are covered with what looks like a blanket of pink billowy snow. Yet a relatively warm spring breeze blows so while your mind thinks snow, it feels like spring. If you time it just right, you’ll see the pale pink flowers catch the breeze and flutter to the ground. The petals drift from the branches, catching the light as they fall, covering the ground in blankety softness.
Each year there is a festival in the end of March. Predictions are made about when the peak day to see the blossoms will be. Everyone waits to see whether this magical time will occur during the festival or not. The festival celebrates the cherry tree but more it celebrates the relationship between Japan and the USA. As the famous cherry trees were given as a gift from Japan to the US in 1912. It took years before the trees planted and decades before they achieved the iconic status they occupy today. You can read more about the history of the cherry blossoms here.
The cherry blossoms are a draw for tourists at the end of March in Franconia as well, but here the petals are white and the trees are not ornamental. When I first moved here, I thought they were apples or another fruiting tree until I looked at the bark. I’m amazed at how fast the cherries ripen and by late June or July are ready for picking.
Franconia is one of the largest exporters of sweet cherries in Germany. In the region lots of people have cherry trees in their yards and so for a month or two, everyone gives boxes of cherries as gifts, or brings them as party snacks.
Pretzfeld, a town nearby, has a Cherry Festival. When I heard about it, I envisioned a festival with everything cherry–cherry ice cream, cherry beer, cherry marmalade, fried cherries and the like–but this cherry festival mostly embraces the Bavarian tradition of using any excuse to drink a Maß of beer and celebrate together in an outdoor party like atmosphere.
Some bier kellers and breweries have actually capitalized on the cherry season, creating cherry beers, drinks and desserts. While my mom was visiting, she made us a dinner with chicken with cherry salsa. I am always interested in making cherry desserts, but pitting the cherries seems like a lot of work and I usually eat all the cherries raw as a snack before I can bake with them!
So far this year, we’ve had one box from a road side stand and five boxes as gifts from friends. I think the cherry is the zucchini for gardeners of Germany. At such a high yield and such a fast rate of rotting, people are giving them away as fast as they can. It’s hard to eat them fast enough.