There Is A Season...
“A time to plant, a time to reap,” sing The Byrds in their famous tune. A sentiment resurging in our changing food culture. I can’t encourage folks enough to eat seasonally whenever able. Local, seasonal produce will change your relationship with fruit and vegetables and take your palate to the next level. Nature knows what it’s doing - it has your back.
Recently, I was at a dinner which included fresh chunks of tomatoes on a salad and a tomato soup. The “fresh” tomatoes were pale with barely any flavor or moisture but the tomato soup had a rich, full, sweet tomato taste. The reason why is the tomatoes used in the soup were canned or jarred - meaning they were harvested and preserved at the peak of tomato season (mid summer to early fall). The fresh tomatoes on my salad were clearly grown somewhere distant, likely picked before ripe and as a result were far from their peak. I can understand why one would claim “I don’t like raw tomatoes” if that is the type of tomato they are usually served. Which, sadly, is the case for the bulk of stock at many groceries and restaurants.
Searching out local produce means you get in-season sustenance, picked at optimum ripeness shortly before it heads into your mouth. The color, flavor, texture and nutritional value are so far above the quality of what we are used to. The difference in experience is astonishing. Your food world will open up. Your tastebuds will sing. People who “don’t like vegetables” will holler : I’ve never had (insert veggie here) that tasted like this! It’s so delicious!”
We are lucky to live in a climate which supports local growth of a great variety of fruits and vegetables. I visit the White Rock Local Market (local farmers & food artisans only) on Saturday’s and pick up fresh, local produce then figure out how to use it throughout the week. One trick is that almost anything in season at the same time goes beautifully together. Tomatoes and peaches? A match made in heaven - throw them in a sandwich, make a salsa, toss on pizza, or eat a salad of just the two. Squash (any kind) and peppers (any kind) - sauté them up together and make a taco. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with local, vine-ripened cantaloupe. Sweet, juicy and vibrant. I love to chop it up, add finely diced red onion and toss with a little roasted nut oil, fresh lemon, smoked sea salt and cracked pepper. I even grilled up a chunk of cantaloupe recently as the “meat” of a sandwich with basil, grilled onion and smokey fake bacon bits. It was delicious.
So, look for local. Google up recipe ideas. Ask questions at your favorite restaurant about which dishes feature fresh, seasonal items. You won’t be sorry. Happy eating!
One of my weekly hauls from the White Rock Local Market.