A friend and I have discovered a shared belief that there's nothing like a stint in the tropics to make you appreciate the seasons. (We've both taught English abroad - her in Sri Lanka, me in Costa Rica.) These days I find it really wonderful to watch winter turn into spring, then summer, autumn - and then I am genuinely pleased to see winter again. You don’t realise how you measure your life based on the seasons, the weather, and of course the food, until every day looks the same. (I used to find it oddly infuriating to be given no clue what month it was, or when it was that something had happened, by the weather, the clothes, etc. How are you supposed to know?!) And in a country that doesn’t have a winter, how can you get excited about another hot sunny day?
So, even though it seems a little weird to want to get a constant reminder of how fast time is flying by, I love to get the chance to note the change in seasons. And food is such a big part of this. I’m a fan of many fruits and vegetables, but the ones I get really excited about are the ones that really are seasonal (and don’t crop up in the supermarket all year round). My spring and summer hunts for rhubarb and gooseberries border on obsession. (Oh, gooseberries, how you always elude me!) I love marking the arrival of winter with warming soups and stodgy comfort foods in winter, and churning out fresh, colourful salads when summer comes. And, most of all, I love mince pies, pancakes, hot cross buns, Easter eggs – all those delicious things you get a license to overindulge in for a short period each year. In fact, there just aren't enough of them for me - I find myself forced to turn to other cultures for more seasonal inspiration. At Christmas there are panettone, stollen, and, this year, vaniliekage. I’ve adopted the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes on the strokes of midnight on New Year’s Eve. I’ve even been known to occasionally muscle in on Chinese New Year and Thanksgiving, just for the food.
However, to do seasonal eating properly, you really have to make it a regular thing. So I think it’s time to start a few new traditions of my own. On Sunday I'm going to continue my relatively new tradition of eggs Benedict for breakfast (undaunted by the fact that last year it took me three goes to get the hollandaise sauce right!).Well, eggs are Eastery, right? And any excuse for eggs Benedict!
But I need more – all ideas very welcome! What are your seasonal treats and what occasion do you mark them with?