Rembering, tasting anew
In the end seasonality is the key to the French woman’s psychological pleasure in food—the natural pleasure of anticipation, change, the poignant joy we take in something we know we shall soon lose, and cannot take for granted. Such heightened awareness of what we put in our mouths is the opposite of routine, mindless eating which promotes boredom and weight gain. The first soft-shell crabs of the season are a singular treat. The first strawberries can trigger a precious memory, as we hearken back to seasons past. And this applies to things we make as well as produce.
Les Fraises d’Antan: The Strawberries of Yesteryear
There were no strawberries at the first Thanksgiving. Wild New England cranberries, perhaps. Strawberries no. The Pilgrims naturally worked with local produce and what was in season. So did our grandparents and more remote ancestors.
Tomatoes in December? Try South America. Canning and mass global distribution of produce have conditioned us to expect all foods all year round. I myself have been beguiled by the engineered good looks of off-season produce, but one taste of cardboard is enough to send me spitting. Nothing is more flavorless than a supermarket tomato in winter, but a true vine ripened specimen in summer is nothing short of divine.
There is a reason to have pumpkin pie with Thanksgiving turkey and not with Fourth of July hotdogs. Seasonality is all about adapting your eating to what is available at markets for a short time during specific months of the year. The rhythm of the seasons is a vital part of tuning our bodies to their equilibrium, cultivating well-being. In summer, for example, our bodies naturally welcome a salad composed of the freshest greens, the most fragrant tomatoes; fresh corn and succulent berries delight us—each full of nutrients but also cooling water, which we lose faster in warm weather. In fall and winter, we will naturally yearn for more concentrated energy to keep warm and on the move. We want more proteins and so happily begins the season for oysters, seafood as well as warm hearty soups, dried beans and lentils, and more meat.