For every season, there is a meal
July 5, 2015 1:46 PM   Subscribe

"You learn to cook so that you don't have to be a slave to recipes. You get what's in season and you know what to do with it." ~ Julia Child
In North America, summer is peak time for fruits and not bad for vegetables, but not all states are the same, so you can also browse Epicurious' seasonal ingredient map for a view of seasonal selections, month by month for any state. In the UK, you can visit Eat the Seasons to get an idea of what's fresh now, and La Cuisine in Paris has a list for seasonal food shopping in France. If you're in India, there are five seasons to consider, with the addition of monsoon season, and seasonal foods are an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as summarized on The Kitchn. Zipmec has a very general list of seasonal foods in South America, but for some real local flavor, Epicurious has a visual guide to Latin American and Carribean produce (though no mention of seasonal availability). And if you want to take a culinary tour of the world, Food By Country is a great place to start, with geography, history and food, plus recipes for each country (previously). And while shopping for produce, it's good to know how to pick the right vegetables and fruit, from The Kitchn, with additional suggestions in the comments.

If you're looking for more recipes to inspire you or help you learn to make the most of the seasons, Epicurious has seasonal recipes and menus, with the option to sort by season. Or if you'd prefer to pick the ingredients and consult Julia, PBS has a guide to a couple different collections of recipes from Julia Child herself.
posted by filthy light thief (27 comments total) 107 users marked this as a favorite
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:09 PM on July 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

We're 16 lbs into blueberry season, with another 5lbs or so to come. Cukes are starting to grown and by the time we hit the Okanagan next week we should get a first taste of peaches and apricots. I love this time of year.
posted by furtive at 2:22 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is that 16lbs of blueberries or 16lbs of waistline
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:28 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm getting quart after quart of fruit from my daughter's lone raspberry bush right now. I'm freezing them until the whole harvest is in, then it's time for making preserves.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:58 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Loving all the food posts the past few days. Keep them coming.
posted by Fizz at 3:27 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty sure the 'food by country' link had already been on the blue, and we'd already mocked it's weird list of 'typical' foods. In the Chilean one, they have a recipe for 'birthday cake', which isn't a thing in the first place, people have different kinds of cake for their birthdays, and none of them are thought of as 'the' birthday cake, plus they recommend using grape jelly, which isn't available in Chile, or at least I've never seen it.
posted by signal at 3:29 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm ready for sweet corn and sun-warm tomatoes fresh off the vine.

This year we're going to get some PAW-PAWS from our yard, God and the squirrels willing. AM EXCITE.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:39 PM on July 5, 2015

I had these awesome Italian neighbours about a decade back who would regularly leave baskets full of their vegetal bounty on my front porch. A few times we all hung out in their backyard for an afternoon, drinking wine and eating and generally having a blast. The family's nonna taught me how she used to sneak out into her own nonna's garden as a girl with some salt, and eat the tomatoes like apples, still on the vine. It was glorious--her daughter found us amongst the tomatoes, juice running down our chins, giggling.

Well, ok, the giggling may have been due to the terribly strong homemade wine.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:44 PM on July 5, 2015 [13 favorites]

Years ago, when I still lived in Takoma Park (MD), I had this friend who lived down the street and she was an excellent gardener. She had to go out of town one weekend and asked her boyfriend to plant the tomato plants they'd bought the day before. Once they were in the ground, he thought it didn't look like very many tomato plants, and he loved tomatoes, and so he went back to the garden store and bought a whole lot more tomato plants and planted them. She came home and was like "Honey, did you think we were going to have to feed the entire state?"

Best part was I'd come home from work at least three days a week to a bag of tomatoes on my stoop. I pretty much lived on BLTs that summer, eating over the sink with tomato juice and bacon grease running down my arms.
posted by rtha at 5:31 PM on July 5, 2015 [7 favorites]

Oh good, something to read in between staring impatiently at my tomato plants and eating more salad greens.
posted by deludingmyself at 5:34 PM on July 5, 2015

My wife has stories of stealth zucchini deliveries, due to a robust crop one year. They would sneak out at night and drop zucchinis on doorstops, because you can only have so many loaves of zucchini bread (which apparently was the main thing their family made).
posted by filthy light thief at 6:12 PM on July 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm not the best at eating vegetables, but honestly, living in countries that don't have everything all year round available in supermarkets, regardless of season has really expanded what I do eat. As a kid, there was a really unpleasant incident that caused me to hate broccoli. After college, living in China for a year, I had my first real understanding of what "seasonal" really meant. If a fruit or vegetable wasn't in season, it flat out wasn't available. From roughly February until I left in June, there was no broccoli. I found it odd at first, and slowly, I started wanting to eat some. As the months went on, even though I was eating great food (seriously, my year in China was the best food year of my life), I really, really wanted broccoli.

When I came to Japan, the supermarkets were filled with stuff I had been missing. The first meal I cooked was some chicken, a bit of rice, and whole damn head of broccoli. It was fantastic, and I doubt if I hadn't had that experience of seeing what seasonal means, first hand, I don't think I'd be eating it now.

As for Japan, the food culture here is in love with seasonal fruits, vegetables, and even fish. It's a legitimate thing, massive chain restaurants change their menus, grocery stores have totally different produce sections depending on the seasons. I look forward to food in a different way than ever before. That first ear of corn, that means summer is here. When apples are in season, and the prices come down, hot damn, it's almost fall, and they are so good! And someday, when I can afford them, matsutake mushrooms are truly a thing of beauty.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:15 PM on July 5, 2015 [7 favorites]

Ghidorah, you are stoking my "I want to live in Japan for a year" fires to unbearable levels.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:30 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh wow, great post, thanks. I moved recently so couldn't do a garden this season. Can't wait for the gloomy winter so I can plan out 2016's garden.
posted by sfkiddo at 6:39 PM on July 5, 2015

Ok, I've always been attracted to the idea of eating seasonally, and buying the right kind of produce for the season. Unfortunately, I live in the tropics, so how exactly do I go about doing the whole seasonal thing? If I stick to buying only stuff from around the region, I guess I'll have to live on durians, coconuts and mangoes for the rest of my life.

If I buy from farther afield, I guess I can rely on what's seasonal in Australia? I've no idea how fresh the stuff is by the time it reaches Singapore though; given that we can get Australian tomatoes in July I'm assuming a lot of the produce is stored in cold rooms. Anybody got a guide to seasonal eating for the tropics?
posted by destrius at 6:57 PM on July 5, 2015

destrius: I've no idea how fresh the stuff is by the time it reaches Singapore

There are at least 5 organic vegetable delivery services in Singapore, which tout their delivery of seasonal vegetables, so there's something growing in the region beyond durians, coconuts and mangoes. If nothing else, you can take tips on what to grow and/or look for from their lists of available produce.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:12 PM on July 5, 2015

filthy light thief: There are at least 5 organic vegetable delivery services in Singapore

Yeah I've looked at them before... their main target audience tends to be people who want to eat organic for health reasons though, and my impression is that a lot of their produce comes from far away, like the States. So its not really eating seasonal and local/regional, which is what I meant I guess. I've bought from Green Circle before, a local farm, but the selection is pretty limited.
posted by destrius at 7:24 PM on July 5, 2015

Isn't that the thing about eating seasonal/local, though? It is limited. (And mostly tongue in cheek, I'm jealous. Eating purely seasonally in Ontario means everything from about October to April is preserved in some way, unless you allow for greenhouses as being local.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:37 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, but whenever I see what seasonal means in California I fly into a seething rage.

Also to me an important part of eating seasonal is having a certain kind of rotation of different flavours for different times of the year, but in the tropics everything's the same all the time so it can feel a bit monotonous. Like the weather!
posted by destrius at 7:43 PM on July 5, 2015

Oh well, yeah. Tell you what, when we finally get sick of snow and annex California, I'll sponsor you for citizenship :)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:47 PM on July 5, 2015

Awesome... and I'll bring along the tropical fruits!
posted by destrius at 10:47 PM on July 5, 2015

Seasonal in Wisconsin was a bit tough - presumably not quite as bad as Ontario, we did have cheese... ;-)

Texas is better, especially since now is the early-mid of tomato season and peaches are running as well. (hiyaaa! chase them doggies) Peppers are not quite the year-round crop you'd expect.

I'm looking forward to the duck breast in the next month or so. It's been a bad year with all the flooding, so the farmer's market might not grow to cover the whole park.

Winters are a bit heavy on hearty greens - the kale and the etc. But there's still more than steak and potatoes.
posted by jefflowrey at 4:31 AM on July 6, 2015

Speaking of California, or at least the Southern portion, the LA Times has an awesome Seasonal Produce Guide with accompanying recipes, tips for how to choose and store each item, and a map for farmers markets open every day.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:10 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thia meal is long, thin sliced cabbage, salted with Himalayan salt, crushed and weighted for a half hour. During which time I slice an onion, shower it with curry, cumin, some grape seed oil, then balsamic. That goes into the microwave for 40 seconds. It cools, while I chop yellow or red peppers, cut the fresh corn off an ear or two, maybe grate a golden beet, bust out some chopped pecans then I find the cold bbq meat, chicken or pork, even salmon. Or I chop up Dubliner cheese to throw in. So then I lightly rinse the salted cabbage to get the salt down, and add everything else I wanted to throw in. I check for flavor balance, maybe add more vinegar, or oil.

I eat this for breakfast, and it is even better the next day. It can go southwest with chopped cilantro, and no curry, it can go all kinds of ways, dependimg on what is at hand. It is a great way to space out Costco chicken, garbanzo beans, or Thai red cargo rice cold fom the fridge.
posted by Oyéah at 10:01 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Every summer I have my Annual Asparagus Count in which I take note of how many entire pounds of asparagus I eat in one sitting (a thing which usually takes me about half an hour of prep time and cooking and then 12 seconds of of crazed t-rex monster devouring) and I look forward to it all year long. So far this summer it's only been 12 but I hope to meet or exceed the summer of 2011 in which the grand total was 44.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:06 AM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

So we don't feel left out, some links for Canadian seasonal food guides: Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island [PDF], New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta [PDF], British Columbia. I guess because the Yukon, Northwest Territories & Nunavut have a pretty short summer I couldn't find a food guide for any kind of cultivated or foraged food (other than these links).
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:25 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

in which the grand total was 44

A legend, a giant among men. *sniffs* Bravo, bravo.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 9:39 AM on July 7, 2015

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