Nici Wickes: Eating with the seasons

By Nici Wickes

Nici Wickes is on day 56 of zucchini season and it's hard to stomach.
Nici Wickes is on day 56 of zucchini season and it's hard to stomach.

Local. Seasonal. These are words I hear over and over. Chefs tout their menu as being "season-led" and sourced locally, as though this makes their offering different, and diners fall in and blithely buy the line. I agree wholeheartedly that it makes perfect sense to cook with seasonal produce as this is when it will have the most flavour and, chances are, be cheaper than out-of-season produce. But to eat with the seasons entirely can leave you craving variety.

In her magnificent memoir, chef Gabrielle Hamilton makes the point exquisitely when she writes about tiring of living in a small Italian seaside town. The produce markets, which she once adored have, after a lengthy stay, become monotonous in their seasonality.

"I think when people get all dreamy about local and seasonal, they are thinking of California, where you can get anything any time of the year . . . 21 days of local eggplant season is torture."

I know what she means. I'm on day 56 of my zucchini season and it's hard to stomach.

They started fruiting in November and they haven't stopped. I've given then away, turned them into savoury bakes and mixed-spice cakes, grilled them and served them up raw. But I'm tired. Of them. I think it might be time for piccalilli.


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