Thursday, 14 April 2011

The throes of the Hungry Gap...?

Asparagus, Broccoli, Red Celery, Leeks, Lemon-Balm, Sage, Rosemary, Marjoram, Chives, Eggs.

As we prise ourselves away, out of the torrid grip of said epoch, I am obliged to ponder the notion of this era bereft of nourishment.. indeed, as I fill yet another trug from the bountiful belly of an early Spring garden, I revoke it.

The wild greens started early, with Ransoms, and Dandelions, Nettles, Sorrel, Sea Beet in full green bloom in February… after the Spring Equinox when the roots in the ground start to turn to seed, the Leeks and Celery still sat around, and Watercress began to fill the streams (forager beware: Liver fluke), Lovage, Marjoram, Herb Patience and Fennel springing up in the garden… and now, oh prolific Purple Sprouting Broccoli abounds and, blessed days, the Asparagus are rousing, poking their dreamy heads through the straw in overnight spurts of growth.

Broccoli and Asparagus plucked and, I insist, taken without a moment’s hesitation, to the table are more akin to foods of the gods than meagre offerings of a time of famished spirits.

And in homage to these simple-yet-unearthly Spring shoots, I pray, do not then drown them in suddy boiling water, nor adulterate them in the depths of chaotic menus, the art is in allowing the essence of these vegetables to emerge.

Steam or lightly blanche the Asparagus and/or Broccoli and serve on the raw-side of cooked,  still-warm on a salad of (aforementioned) wild herbs with a squeeze of lemon, a drip of oil… for the vinaigrette-o-phile: a simple Balsamic Vinaigrette, for the glutton: Sea-Salted Butter or a home-made Hollandaise Sauce whisked with the yolks of today’s eggs, for the outdoorsy: grill the Asparagus on an open fire by night...

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