• 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.

The darling buds of May

Domestic goddess rating: 0% (it’s my birthday ūüėÄ so a day off goddess-dom today) Five-a-day: 5/5 Food miles: none

On the menu: bacon sandwich, greek yoghurt and honey (all-Sally’s-favourite-things breakfast); half a tuna sandwich (post-breakfast recovery lunch); fillet steak, asparagus and pommes nicoise (very posh birthday tea from hubby – who’s a lucky girl then)

What a great day – just kicked back and took it easy. And my first asparagus of the year, too. It doesn’t get much better than this!

So – here we are then. I feel like I’m emerging out of a long dark tunnel into the light – summer is just around the corner and there’s a hint – just a hint – that such undreamt of gorgeousness as fresh peas and beans might be on the way, too.

We’re still not quite clear of the hungry gap – but we’ve crossed the worst bit and are in reach of the other side. It hasn’t been quite as bad as I feared: I developed a bit of a thing about cabbage (am now a true connoisseur – can now tell a savoy from a cavolo nero at a hundred paces), and the advent of purple sprouting broccoli and chard really meant it wasn’t that long an endurance test after all.

As I’ve said before, apples are sorely missed – dried ones just aren’t the same – and I’ve also slipped a bit over the issue of cucumbers. Both are down to Princess the Younger’s very particular tastes: she does like a bit of cucumber in her sandwiches, and I can’t always fob her off with salad leaves. But since my salad patch is excelling itself at the moment (of which more later) I might have more luck this month. We’ll see!

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Eating out

Domestic goddess rating: 0% (still in holiday mode) Five-a-day: 4/5 Food miles: about 40

On the menu: Toast,  jam & juice (breakfast); cheese sandwich (lunch); mushroom & leek risotto (supper)

I’m just back from a three-day mini-break in Hay-on-Wye, which for anyone who doesn’t know it is a gorgeous town on the Welsh border full of bookshops. We stayed in a fabulous bed & breakfast (Lower House at Cusop Dingle – if you get the chance, stay there, it’s fantastic) and had a great time munging around in dusty old bookshops finding treasures.

Eating seasonally when you’re out is practically impossible, I find, though. It’s a bit like being vegetarian used to be 20 years ago, when everyone looked at you in a wierd sort of way and not a single menu had anything on it that didn’t include meat.

For the seasonal eater in February, every salad garnish turns up with cucumber and tomatoes; every cooked breakfast is bedecked with grilled tomatoes (which is not to say they aren’t spectacularly tasty, of course). I didn’t get too wound up about it – but I did have to take a few days out of my seasonal year. It reminded me, though, how much everyone else in the world takes so little notice of the seasons. It’s just what I’m trying to avoid: that knee-jerk “it’s salad, it’s got to be cucumber” sameness that food takes on when you have everything all the time.

It may have been¬†a break, but it didn’t feel like a holiday – more like a return to something I’d thought I’d escaped. I think, on the whole, I prefer it my way.