Which is fine, but takes no account for the seasons.
I suppose you can argue that in Ireland nothing local is ever in season anyway, except potatoes and turnips and carrots (and parsnips and spinach and kale and cabbages and rhubarb and gooseberries, perhaps), so perhaps that's why it never even occurred to me to try to eat with the seasons. I'm pretty sure my mother bought the same things regardless of the time of year, too - apart from, say strawberries, which were clearly a summer treat, and new potatoes, likewise. (You always got to make a wish when you ate your first strawberries of the year, or the first anything else, it seemed like. It made it special, even if it was gooseberries.)
Anyone American is probably wondering what on earth a gooseberry is right about now. I'm not sure you get them over here, but they're little hard, smooth, light-green berries with stubble on them, and faint stripes running from pole to pole. You stew them with lots of sugar and stick them under a sweet crumble topping and they still make your mouth pucker with the sourness, but somebody somewhere decided they were a fruit and therefore worthy of dessert. They flourish in the Irish climate in the late summer.
It probably wasn't until we were living in Texas that I noticed certain vegetables were cheaper at particular times of year. The asparagus, for instance, was $3.99 a pound until suddenly, in June, I could get it for $1.99 instead. My inner skinflint rejoiced, a friend mentioned that asparagus was delicous when roasted, and suddenly I had a new favourite veg. I began to pay attention. Watermelons and avocadoes were plentiful all year round because we were so far south, but other produce clearly had its moment in the sun (so to speak).
Nowadays I try to get as much of our greenstuff (and red, yellow, pink, orange, and purple stuff) as I can at the local farmers' market, which runs from late May to late November. This year, with extra inspiration from my new best friend Smitten Kitchen, I've been making an effort to cook seasonally. There was the asparagus and the strawberries, the rhubarb (oh happy day) and the corn, the blueberries (we picked our own) and peaches and zucchini (that's courgette) and summer squash.
|Picking blueberries in July|
The last time I was at a farmers' market in Ireland (which was probably also the first time, as they're a bit of a newfangled invention over there), I was delighted - until I discovered that they were selling vegetables grown in Peru and Mexico, to name a couple of venues. It seemed to be more of an outdoor novelty supermarket than what I'd expected - an opportunity for local vendors to sell freshly harvested local produce straight to the customer, cutting out the middleman and passing on both quality and savings. Maybe that's just impossible in Dublin, unless you want a market full of little beyond carrots and spuds. (And great meat, excellent cheese, freshly caught fish... so many opportunities missed.)
So I'm appreciating what we've got here, and enjoying the colours, the flavours, the textures, and the chance to cook with the freshest food I can find. I'll leave the Peruvian asparagus in the supermarket for now.