Traveling Fools

I am not usually a big maker of puns but even I could not resist.  I am going to give you a “recipe” for a strawberry rhubarb fool and my sister and I are traveling in Estonia right now…so traveling fool.  Okay I’ll stop…

Last week, I was attending a Nordic-Celtic-Baltic Folklorist’s conference at University of Tartu.  I was the only puppeteer who attended, but the folklorists gave me a warm welcome!  I found the lectures inspiring and fascinating.  If you want to learn how folklore teaches us to safely  and successfully collect magical bracken on Midsummer Night, I now have a notebook full of information…and that was just one of the TWENTY EIGHT lectures that I attended.  We are on our way to stay on a very rural island (where our grandparents lived until they fled in World War Two) and I feeling confident that I now have the folk information to deal with any fairies, elves, trolls, witches, ghosts or werewolves that we may encounter there.

Before I left town, I made this incredibly delicious rhubarb fool with cardamom cream with Pistachio Brandy Snaps both from the impeccable food blog Lottie and Doof.  To make the brandy snaps gluten-free I use the recipe for Jeanne’s gluten-free flour mix from The Art of Gluten-Free Baking.  That’s right, I ate even more rhubarb than the numerous rhubarb posts of the last month indicate.  I promise to post recipes that involve something other than rhubarb… just as soon as I start eating something other than rhubarb.  I also am very interested in this rhubarb fool (also featuring cardamom and pistachios) that uses coconut cream, but I have not tried it yet.  If you are at home with all of the resources of your kitchen I recommend trying one of the above recipes…but let’s pretend that you are traveling and your resources are somewhat limited in an exciting and unfamiliar way.  Behold the kitchenette….If you, like me, are the kind of traveller who always makes sure to stay somewhere with a little kitchenette, a fool is the sort of dessert that you can make by stewing whatever fruit is in season locally and  layering it with the creamy dairy deliciousness that is traditional where you are visiting.  You get bonus points if you can find something crunchy and sweet to sprinkle on the top.  In truth, if the fruit is very ripe you could  even just muddle it up a bit and skip the stewing part.  I made this fool in the town of Tartu using ingredients from the local market.  It went well with the pink and red colors of the town hall which was right across from our apartment.

We also had a view of the kissing student statue.  I love how there is fountain water trickling off of their umbrella as if they are kissing in the rain.  So sweet.

For a university town,   Tartu actually has a whole lot of sweet, accessible, universal public art on themes like young love…or a father’s awe of his son…or pork…



Where is the art that makes you feel stupid?  Not in Tartu.  You do not need a degree in theory to appreciate this lovely town.  This happy giant sow statue stands outside the Tartu Market, where you can buy all manner of fruits, vegetables, honey, pork, fish, eggs and dairy from old sturdy Estonian women, many of whom look and sound so much mike my grandmother that I can barely control my urge to climb into their lap and kiss them!

At the market right now in Estonia, you can buy sorrel, dill, cucumbers (both pickled and fresh), tomatoes, red currants, strawberries, rhubarb, red currants and lily of the valley.

I overbought strawberries and rhubarb (surprise!) so I made them into a compote.  I had some gluten-free cardamom, rose, pistachio shortbread leftover from a batch that I made as a snack for my plane ride.  Well, I had some crumbs, but it was enough to garnish a fool.  I also had some fresh red currants (which are much tarter than you might expect!).  I sent my sister to the market to get some cultured cream  called kohu-piim which an Estonian friend recommended.  After an encounter with flustered dairy saleswoman my sister returned home with something more like a very creamy tart ricotta.  it was delicious!

We are in the larger city of Tallinn now.  Tallinn is simultaneously medieval and modern.  We are having a ball exploring the old city, the history of Estonian handicrafts and modern art and how the current artists and designers are interpreting it. Our next post will probably be about our food adventures.  In the meanwhile, here are my favourite pictures from Tartu!





17 Comments Add yours

  1. Rima Fand says:

    Hooray my lovely fools! This makes me so happy. Can’t wait to be there with you! xoxoxo

  2. Cousin Greg says:

    Tere! It sounds like you’re loving your Estonian adventure right now. I keep waffling between Wollongong Australia and Tartu as to where I want to do my masters degree and this post of yours has further muddied the issue! You’ll love Tallin and Hiumaa, especially Vana Tallin. Erin will get to go through the same thing on Hiumaa that I went through, in specific, that all of the natives look like either her or I, which leads to some odd experiences: I ran into a cop who could have been my twin. Best wishes To both of you from the Alberta branch of the family!

    1. Tartu all the way. Maybe I’ll go at the same time and study folklore!

  3. Maki says:

    LOVE Tartu! What a beautiful city! And wha-What! a swine carousel! trolls trolls. Lilly of the Valley!! Make perfume! That iconic dusty yellow of the buildings reminds me of Hungary. Thanks for a visit to this city. Looking forward to more posts! Big love to you & Silvi. Special time for you girlcats

    1. Makale! You would love it here. I got your note about writing something for the Wilderness of Wish field notes and YES! Probably about the island…

      The swine carousel is in St Antonius’ courtyard, which also has a block area under a tree, a free outdoor library, many hammocks and an herb garden. There is building whre local artisans sell their wares and a communal kitchen with two brand new guest studios above it. If you, or someone htat you know wants a residency at a very well equipped studio to do textile or leather work in Tartu take a look here


      1. makale says:

        ooooh!!! i want to go! i want to go! and free outdoor library with hammocks and an herb garden, erin! why are we here again struggling? lol. i was saying to rico that OF COURSE erin is from a magical place that has a thoroughly evolved discourse on trolls and sprites!! my mom just sent me this beautifully shot article on these URAL OWLS from the Estonian Forest! I posted them on the wilderness blog with big love to you,
        we miss you and await your return. salons! pig carousels! hammocks in the park! kisses to you, silvi and the mister. shine, m

        1. makale says:

          p.s. i’m saving the article for you. 😉

  4. Ieva Wool says:

    When I was little and went to the Latvian mid-summer festivities, my mom told me that young couples would go into the forest that night to look for ferns…….. little did I know it was a fertility ritual 🙂

    1. Okay I did warn you about getting me started on this topic. It turns out that in Slavonic and Western Europe, collecting fern seeds on midsummers night was the sort of activity that was likely to end in some sort of pact with a witch or Devil. In the Nordic countries you might become invisible (to comic effect) or find a treasure with the treasure finding powers awarded you by the fern seeds…but the treasure guarded by a demon. It is only in the Baltic countries that, what was probably the original purpose for midsummer bracken collection (going in to the woods to make love and babies), persisted without threat of judgement, folly or demonization. Yay Baltics!

      1. Ieva Wool says:

        I later learned that this was the night that infertile women could go with another man to see if they could make a baby. For a peasant culture, it seems like a way to ensure survival.
        Only thing is, I can’t remember if I “learned” this or read it in a work of fiction. For me, the latter is more likely so I can’t assert this strongly, much as I like it ….

        1. I feel like I may have heard that as well…although it may have been from you! I am an artist, not an academic so I reserve the right to believe!

  5. Katherine says:

    You two are so beautiful…your matching creamy complexions and matching lip gloss! Fool indeed! Mm! I kiss you both!

  6. Glenda says:

    Darling Nipsa Ninas! So great to see you and Sylvi in Estonia! Love, Mum

  7. Barbara says:

    wow- you are two gorgeous gals who seem to be having an amazing time. I am in awe of this storytelling from so far away, it really brings us there with you! the photos are gorgeous. what is in those jars?? I want some! and I want that pig (?) carousel too.

  8. Boo says:

    What a wonderful adventure, Erin and Silvi! And now I want some rhubarb.
    Big love from NYC, where the sun is shining and all the shows I’m producing have sold out. 🙂

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