For Everything There Is A Season
This is the introduction to the current Seasonal Table, a column – with recipes – that I write for Flavor Magazine. The recipes are appropriate for any autumnal meal, and certainly, together, would make a local Thanksgiving feast in many parts of the US.
Harvest Festivals have all but vanished, at least in our society. Thanksgiving Day is sometimes derisively nicknamed “Turkey Day”. For too many people the event means wolfing down a huge plate of indifferent food prepared hurriedly and harriedly. And then go do something else, away from the table, and away from others.
Thanksgiving Day is not about turkeys. Not… really.
How many of us ever think about – much less realize – how much time, physical efforts, resources, planning and brains it takes to grow cereals, fruit, vegetables, and animals to harvest. Why should we indeed? We can buy just about any produce we want any time of the year at any supermarket – and cheap too! Asparagus in August, grapes in February, strawberries in December, apples in May, watermelons in March, pumpkins in June. Those are not in season in the mid-Atlantic area.
We pay a price for this.
I don’t mean the environmental costs – though they are real enough. You see, out-of-season year-round produce distance us from the natural rhythms and the agricultural landscapes that have shaped us over millennia. Their cheapness make us scorn the work it takes to grow them. Their insipidity can only engender soul-less meals, encouraging both over-eating and waste. They aren’t cause for celebrations.
So… I dare you to embrace voluntary seasonality.
Learn your local crop schedule. Learn to cook in season and to preserve what’s abundant. Bring back the joy and sometime unpredictability of seasonal produce. Banish boringness from your table. Let spontaneity in.
Discover new bold tastes. You may even like it!
You may not give thanks for a full barn, a well-stocked granary, a root-cellar bursting with crocks of sauerkraut, or a smoke-house full of hams. But you certainly can give thanks for a well-grown plate of local food. You can be grateful for sweet chestnuts in October and for crisp turnips in November. And for the local soul-full food that truly sustains us and the hands that grew it.
Eating IS an agricultural act.
The Recipes (October November 2011)
- Mushroom & Spinach Soup
- Roasted Duck with Berry Jelly Gravy
- Kale with Potatoes and Red Pepper
- Roasted Winter Squash With Chile & Vanilla
- Fall Salad with Roasted Apple
- Rustic Maple Apple Tatin Tart
- Honey Quince Ice-Cream
I will post some of the recipes in the next few weeks