Strawberries often are the cause of chauvinist attitudes, of the ‘English strawberries are the best in the world!’ kind.
Next time you have a strawberry match with a friend who lives overseas, stop arguing and consider that you are both right. Strawberries are absolutely the best where you live, and the shorter the distance they travel, the better. And they are also the evidence that local is the best.
Asparagus is another local lobbyist. I have a farm shop in my locality that sells asparagus, obviously strictly in season, picked about a couple of hundred metres away. I solemnly swear that they are unparalleled in taste, compared even to the French and Italian imported ones, the special varieties of purple asparagus from Norfolk, let alone the spears imported from the southern hemisphere – which is a crime against flavour, not just environment.
Even with the apparently alien to our climate tomato, I find myself buying the UK grown fruit. The problem with Sicilian datterini tomatoes and such like, gorgeous though they should be, is they are either picked too early and so never quite ripen; or picked ripe and last about a day.
So as much as you can, buy from your farm shops or straight from producers who have embarked on delivery or click-and-collect services in pandemic – at least some good has come of it. The only import not only necessary but recommended is champagne!
With those tomatoes I’ll make the tomato and fig salad this week, especially that lovely Italian figs, the ones that look unripe but so are not! have turned up. And for figs Italy must be the local producer as the tree down my garden disappoints year after year.
I’ll also make green beans with tomatoes which is a great side to saltimbocca made with the chicken fillet from my local butcher. And at least a few times I’ll cook pasta with fresh tomatoes for dinner – such a simple, cheap and quick meal.
If I can get the last this season bunch of asparagus this week, I’ll cook them in a stir fry with scallops. Or steam them and serve with parmesan souffle omelette for lunch, made of course with the freshest eggs from the farm shop where you can almost watch them being laid!
I’ve already made a courgette ribbon salad with the fruit from my one plant, and there will be many more to come. I’m saving courgette flowers in the fridge to have them fried one lunchtime soon. And my garden potatoes are already quite large enough to smash and roast them, for the Sunday sirloin roast.
And the fruit: I lament the absence of pick your own farm in my area so have to make do with the market berries for the striped berry tart. Hopefully it will soon be bramble season – the best of pick your own and free!
Stay safe and cook deliciously!