• In season now: May

    New this month: Asparagus! The food of gods... and carrots are back.

    Still in season from last month: cauliflower, chard, green cabbage, salad leaves, main-crop potatoes (from store), salad leaves, sea kale, spring greens, rhubarb

    Goodbye till next year to: Purple sprouting broccoli (sniff, sniff), leeks, stored parsnips, forced rhubarb

  • What I’m doing here

    This all started when I picked the first strawberries from my new allotment.

    I'd never been so enraptured or so excited by food. It was a shock to find that anything could taste so good.

    So what - I'd never had strawberries before?

    No - all the strawberries I'd had were shop-bought, like as not flown in from intensive growers in Spain or Chile, and eaten in winter when strawberries should be a distant summer memory.

    It revolutionised my thinking about the fresh food we eat every day. I started to wonder if you got the same amazing taste from all types of food grown and eaten in season. And then I decided to do something about it.

    The Year of Eating Seasonally is my little experiment to find out what it's really like not to have it all. The only fruit and veg I and my family are going to eat in 2008 will be what's growing in the ground at the time (or, in winter, what I can get out of store).

    I want to find out if the hungry gap is really as hungry as everyone says it is: whether you're really eating nothing but cabbage all winter; and whether you miss strawberries in December.

    Along the way I hope I'll save a few tons of carbon being released into the atmosphere on my behalf, as I won't be requiring those French beans flown from Chile, thanks very much. And I hope I'll be rediscovering what food can really taste like.

    If you have any comments, please feel free to post them anywhere you like - or you can email me at sallywhite@hotmail.com.

Rhubarb, rhubarb

Domestic goddess rating: 90% Five-a-day: 3/5 Food miles: about 200

On the menu: Cereal & juice (breakfast); a couple of cups of coffee (lunch – yep, working again); tunafish pasta and rhubarb fool (a supper to die for)

rhubarb.jpg

Here it is… the fruit du jour for the next couple of months.

We’re out of everything except rhubarb by February, and that’s the way it’s gonna be until the first berry fruits start appearing in about May. So this is a fruit (or, to be technical, a vegetable) which we’re going to have to get to know really well.

The rather delectable looking stalks in the picture are of course forced rhubarb (the only kind you should be able to get at this time of year). This is a method of growing which involves excluding light from the plant so that stems grow elongated, pale and very, very sweet. It’s a true delicacy for early spring.

This lot is from the “rhubarb triangle” of England in Yorkshire, between Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford, one of the only areas in the country where they still force rhubarb commercially. I found it in my local farm shop (the grocer’s did rhubarb but it was shipped in from Holland – what a travesty!)

I made some rhubarb fool with this lot for this evening’s pudding. If you think you don’t like rhubarb, try rhubarb fool using forced stems. Oh my… this is a taste to die for. It’s one of those dishes you take one mouthful of and then go off into rapturous exclamations over. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does… ohhhh, is it worth it.  

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