• 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.

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Jarman season

Domestic goddess rating: 100% (am highly frugal and resourceful: the leftover queen would be proud of me) Five-a-day: 4/5 Food miles: none

On the menu: muesli and juice (detox breakfast); ravioli with tinned-tomato-and-leek sauce (lunch); leftover shepherd’s pie and frozen peas (supper)

Back to normal after one of the most over-indulgent Easters I can remember for a long time. Still, managed to make the most of yesterday’s roast and recycled it (not literally, you understand) into a rather scrummy shepherd’s pie.

My husband is reading a book by the late, great film director, artist and gardener, Derek Jarman. It’s called Modern Nature, it’s very beautiful, and here’s what he’s written for February:

“Daffodils ‘come before the swallows dare and take the winds of March with beauty’. When I read these words they are tinged with sadness, for the seasonal nature of daffodils has been destroyed by horticulturists who nowadays force them well before Christmas. One of the joys our technological civilisation has lost is the excitement with which seasonal flowers and fruits were welcomed: the first daffodil, strawberry or cherry are now things of the past, along with the precious moment of their arrival. Even the tangerine – now a satsuma or clementine – appears de-pipped months before Christmas. I expect one day to see daffodils for sale in Berwick Street market in August, as plentiful as strawberries at Christmas.

“Even the humble apple has succumbed. Tough green waxy specimens have eradicated the varieties of my childhood, the pink-fleshed scented August pearmains, the laxtons and russets; only the cox seems to have survived the onslaught. Perhaps my nostalgia is out of place – now daffodils are plentiful; and mushrooms, once a luxury, are ladled out by the pound. Avocados and mangoes are commonplace. But the daffodil, if only the daffodil could come with spring again, I would eat strawberries with my Christmas pudding.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself. I think Derek Jarman would have approved of the seasonal eating movement. For some reason this lovely book has gone out of print, but if you can get hold of a copy, read it and enjoy.


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