It’s the season for one of nature’s most beautiful blooms, the cherry blossom. In Washington D.C. from March 20th-April 12th, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is in full swing, and in Japan in March and April, festivals take place throughout the country. So this week we’ve decided to feature a delicious recipe for Cherry Clafoutis along with the cherry’s long and juicy history. Here are some of the highlights:
- The common cherry comes from the tree Prunus avium. The tree’s name is Latin and means of or for the birds because our feathered friends have always loved the succulent fruit of the cherry tree.
- The cherry was part of the cuisines of several ancient cultures, including the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Mesopotamians. In fact, the word cherry comes from the Greek kerasos and the Assyrian karsu.
- In his 3rd century BCE book “History of Plants,” Greek botanist and Aristotle protégé Theophrastus wrote about cherries and suggested that they’d been known to Greeks for centuries.
- Roman historian Pliny the Elder wrote that the Roman general Lucullus in his journeys found a wild cherry growing in Pontus, a northeastern province of Asia Minor. He loved this cherry so much he brought it back to Rome with him. There is even a bit of folklore that says Lucullus committed suicide when he realized he’d run out of his favorite treat.
- When European colonists arrived in America they found that a species of cherry called Prunus serotina was already strongly rooted in the New World. However, they brought their favorite Prunus avium with them and the two were eventually cross-bred. Today, there are thousands of cherry varieties.
- In the 8th century CE, the Japanese began transplanting cherry blossom trees from the mountains to more populated areas to be seen and enjoyed. The trees were venerated and regarded as a symbol of reproduction and new life.
- In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, D.C. as a gesture of friendship between the U.S. and Japan. Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, and First Lady Helen Taft planted the trees on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park on March 27th” and in 1927, school children reenacted this planting, which began the National Cherry Blossom Festival that continues to this day.
So now that you know a little bit about cherry and cherry blossom history, let’s get to the cooking. This recipe is perfect for a spring garden party under a gloriously flowering tree. And it’s gluten free!
- 1/2 cup of natural cane sugar
- 16 ounces of sweet cherries, pitted
- 3 eggs
- 1 ¼ of cups buttermilk
- 1/3 of cup almond flour
- 2 tablespoons of brown rice flour (or all purpose but then it won’t be gluten-free)
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons of finely grated ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt
- confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 375° f. Grease a 9-inch pie pan with unsalted butter. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.
- Arrange the cherries in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, remaining sugar, almond flour, brown rice flour, vanilla ginger and salt until smooth. Pour evenly over the fruit.
- Bake for about 50 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and set in the center. Test by inserting a toothpick in the center—if it comes out clean, the clafoutis is ready.
- Allow to cool slightly, then dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.
 Filippone, P. (n.d.). Cherry History – Food History. Retrieved April 4, 2015, from http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/cherryhistory.htm
 Cherish The Cherry. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2015, from http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/fruits/cherry-facts2.asp
 Filippone, P.
 Rolfes, E. (n.d.). For Hundreds of Years, Cherry Blossoms Are Matter of Life and Death. Retrieved April 4, 2015, from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/for-more-than-1000-years-cherry-blossoms-move-world-to-emotion/
 Clayton, M. (n.d.). A Short History Of Washington’s Cherry Trees. Retrieved April 4, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/meg-waite-clayton/history-of-the-cherry-trees_b_2915727.html?