Hooray for Spring!

1 Jun

Hooray for spring

In our Portuguese B&B we try to serve a weekly diner for our guests. That is always great fun. Our guests love to eat in and we love to cook and make a nice (mostly vegetarian) menu. Seasonal cooking is trendy. Every month, new cook books with fashionable subtitles about seasonal cooking, cooking from your own (vegetable) garden, four seasons of food and more contemporary labels are published. This year the acclaimed six-season cookbook by Joshua Mcfadden was published and in this book the vegetables from the ‘right’ month play a leading role. Growing up as a city child I had no idea about which vegetables grow when. After all, in the supermarket you could find strawberries, pumpkins, fresh spinach, rocket and spring onions all year round.

Cooking in Portugal is always seasonal. And therefore just a bit more exciting. Every week the vegetable department of my local super market looks different. Last winter I learned a lot about different types of cabbage. i never knew that there could be so much variety. Today savoy cabbage (couve lombarda), tomorrow cauliflower (couve flor), the following days green cabbage, pointed cabbage (couve coração), sprouts or white cabbage. But to be honest, despite the variety of different types of cabbages and dishes like stew, soup, savory tart and puree in the winter, we were ready for some fresh spring green in The White House.

And that is why these weeks, I get goose bumps every time I visit the local vegetable store. Because after months of dark green, brown, and yellowish beige, my favourite department slowly but surely colors bright red, yellow and fresh green again. Hey, do I see fresh spring onion again? And look, boxes full of freshly picked strawberries and raspberries, directly from the Algarve. On the market I buy fresh peas (that wonderful taste!) And fresh turnips, lettuce and spinach. Suddenly there is plenty of fresh green everywhere. well, if it is not sold out …

Shopping in Portugal is also some sort of giant availability tombola. Major supermarkets in countries like the Netherlands, UK or US have a continuous and endless availability of vegetables. 24/7 convenience. In Portugal I regularly have to ask if there is still leek, after which I am kindly informed that the leek (basil, broccoli …) is sold out today. Amanhã again …

Cooking for our B&B guests in The White House is always an adventure. Because just when I have that beautiful recipe with fennel in mind, the fennel is sold out. Or the red onions. Or the raspberries. Portuguese cooking is all about improvising. Living here, I now understand why the Portuguese eat out so often. For little money we eat a tasty fish or another dish of the day. Because daily specials … they are here every day!