In September, Susan Zelouf is inspired by luscious fruit, juicy colours and the magic and timing of ripening hormonal processes …
One of the biggest blows of moving from Rome to Belfast was the fruit. Evenings spent playfully hunting/being hunted by handsome ragazzi through cobbled vias merged into mornings gathering seasonal fruit in open air markets, punctuated by stops at local bars for caffè corto, a chaser to an Italian’s customary eye-opener of cappuccino e cornetto, the creamy coffee served barely above body temperature in a warmed cup with flaky, buttery pastry. Jewelled produce at bustling bancarelle varied, depending on what was in season and ripe. Read the labels in Irish supermarkets and you may fi nd apples from Auckland, American avocados, strawberries grown in Spain and pears from Provence. Considering the arduous farm-to-fork voyage, biting into a luscious piece of ripe fruit is as rare as a mask on mass transit.
Spoiler alert: in Call Me By My Name, the third film in Luca Guadagnino’s Desire Trilogy, Elio (Timothée Chalamet) does unspeakable things with a gloriously ripe, juicy peach, which is subsequently eaten by Elio’s secret lover Oliver. Set in a villa in Northern Italy, its garden planted with apricot and peach trees, ripened fruit is a metaphor for Elio’s sexual wakening, a literal coming of age. Guadagnino’s I Am Love (the first film in the trilogy) is an erotic cautionary tale in which shrapnel from a mature woman’s explosive sensual awakening fragments her traditional family. Ripening fruit and veg star alongside a ravenous and roused Tilda Swinton, effortlessly chic in Raf Simons for Jil Sander, the food of love prepared by her chef lover using ingredients sourced from his own attentively tended garden. Feast. Disrobe. Repeat.
“WITH TIME AND STRAW, FIGS RIPEN …” Provençal Proverb
Ripening is the result of complex biochemical events in which fruit produces a gaseous compound called ethylene, the fruit-ripening hormone, nudging it to soften, change colour and develop its characteristic fl avour and aroma. Women of child-bearing age are considered biologically ripe, ovulation telegraphing the readiness to reproduce, attracting lads like pints at last call. With the onset of menopause, hormone levels drop off, and too often, so does desire, as well as desirability. If, on a biological level, we are born to breed, then as mature, menopausal women, shouldn’t we be content to embrace our age, wisdom and power by becoming crones? Perhaps, but some of us choose to embrace juiciness as well; think Joan Rivers, and the bit in her act where she recounts going to a cocktail party studded with available men, dropping a tampon secreted in her handbag (accidentally on purpose) to signal her ongoing fertility (read shaggability). Or unfulfilled widow Nancy Stokes (played by Emma Thompson) refusing to go sexless into that good night, instead hiring a young hottie for a night of pleasure in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.
For your larder, why not find the sweet spot between ripen-at-home produce, requiring patience and a watchful eye, hastened by hacks like stashing hard-as-rock stone fruit in a paper bag with an apple or banana (giving off more ethylene) to keep it company, before you move to Italia? While you’re at it, consider HRT (hormone replacement therapy), the equivalent of a grow light for women of a certain age, useful when Mother Nature is more Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest than Joyce Byers in Stranger Things. Then feast, disrobe, repeat.
1. I’M GETTING my glad rags on in trippy prints from Dries Van Noten. Photograph by Rafael Pavarotti.
2. I’M GOING for baroque in a freshwater pearl, ebony and leather ring by Danish jeweller Monies. www.monies.dk
3. I’M WALKING in the footsteps of giants via Nuala Goodman’s handtufted “Together” rug, inspired by Gandhi’s Salt March. Available via Minima, Hanover Quay, Dublin 2.
4. I’M BITING my lip in barely-there Bitten Lip Tint from www.victoriabeckhambeauty.com
5. I’M PLEASURING myself with a discreet lipstick vibrator from So Divine Amour. Best gift ever! www.lookfantastic.ie
6. I’M NAILING it in Chanel Le Vernis longwear nailcolour in 899 Solar. www.chanel.com
7. I’M EYEING up flights to see “Shocking! The Surreal World of Elsa Schiaparelli” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. www.madparis.fr
8. I’M SIPPING a Tiki Street at The Virgin Mary Bar, Capel Street, Dublin 1. Who needs booze when mocktails taste this heady?
9. I’M MEDITATING on everyday objects like “Three Little Figs” by Dublin still-life artist Susan Cairns. susancairns.com
10. I’M CHANNELLING AW22’s ripest russet fruits in beautifully tailored outerwear by Copenhagen’s Martin Asbjørn.
11. I’M SAMPLING forbidden fruit in Tom Ford’s Bitter Peach perfume, at Brown Thomas.
12. I’M HEADING into town in architectural heels from Fendi’s AW22 collection.