Summer is the best time of year for produce. Fresh tomatoes find their way in sauces. Sweet berries are made into pies or eaten straight off the bush. Corn on the cob is a staple at barbeques and watermelon is perfect for those hot, humid days spent outdoors. Eating locally grown produce is the cornerstone behind seasonal eating and seasonal cooking.
Yes, these foods are available year round. But, they taste even better when grown by local farmers. This concept is the cornerstone behind Mediterranean cuisines such as Italian food, Greek food, French food, and other Mediterranean cultures.
Part of what makes Mediterranean food so great is that they are masters at cooking for the seasons. Try to find asparagus in November, for example, is nearly impossible when shopping at the local markets. This is something we don’t understand in the United States.
As a result, food is extra tasty because the ingredients are so fresh. Have you ever had Insalate Caprese with handmade mozzarella and ripe tomatoes? Using seasonal tomatoes and fresh cheese is the secret to this classic Italian dish. Try using lackluster tomatoes and you will be really disappointed. The flavor just doesn’t compare.
Think about your favorite culinary treats. Mine are ripe summer watermelon, summer tomatoes, and spring asparagus and artichokes. When I visited Greece, the waiters would bring over plates of ripe watermelon after our meal, on the house. Seasonal eating has given me some of my most memorable food memories.
Although most of these foods are available year round in most places, it is still possible to eat seasonally. However if we want to enjoy Mediterranean cuisine and Mediterranean food the way its supposed to be prepared, you really need to eat seasonally. In fact, every type of cuisine can get a face lift when using the freshest ingredients possible.
Local growing schedule. Become familiar with your local growing schedule. Places like California have multiple growing schedules. Other places only have one. Understanding when things are in season will enhance your culinary experiences.
Area specialties. What are the local specialties? Washington State is known for their apples. Italy boasts gorgeous tomatoes. The secret to Mediterranean cooking isn’t necessarily the recipes, though they are great, it’s the local ingredients.
Follow the seasons. Spring calls for the addition of bitter foods such as artichokes, dandelion greens, and asparagus. Summer is best enjoyed with cool soups such as gazpacho, sangria, and salads. Fall’s treats include chestnuts and squash, and winter calls for hotter foods such as stews and soups. How are the seasons beckoning you?