Cook with seasons
Autumn is my favorite time of the year. Still warm and not too hot like summer, it’s perfect for me, I just wish it could last longer. It’s also the perfect time for socializing outdoors, doing picnics, for cooking, eating and drinking. It also represents new beginnings as the summer is behind us, we are finally done with zucchini, tomatoes, aubergines... and ready for the new kitchen adventures. Often guests on our food tours ask me what is the best description of Croatian cuisine. I always tell them it is seasonal and home cooking. It is not some new world concept but something that we inherited from our grandmothers and mothers. Seasonal cooking in Croatia is the natural way of life.
It is very common to buy fresh vegetables and fruits from the farmer’s market rather than in the supermarket. It is even better if you have a small garden and try to grow things by yourself. We are more connected to the food and seasonal ingredients inspire us to be more creative in the cuisine. What can be better from the freshly picked vegetables and fruits? They can not be as closely compared with those you buy in the supermarkets. They look lovely by the color and shape but taste is missing as they are grown through the whole year in greenhouses using modern technology and chemicals. Once they are right they are stored for months and finally they travel to the table miles and miles away. That way of growing fruits and vegetables is still common here because we are supporting small local farmers that are relying on seasonal produce.
There are so many benefits of cooking seasonally:
• Protecting environment by decreasing pollution caused by pesticides
• Eating healthier using very fresh products without storing so they have higher nutritional value
• Supporting local economy with buying products from the local farmers
• Promoting food diversity
• Saving money as the seasonal food is always cheaper
We are already excited to try new recipes with pumpkins, leek, cabbages, cauliflower, dried beans...
There are many things written on this theme but you don't need to start with special lessons and read all those cookbooks (of course if you don't want it, cookbooks for me are the chick lit☺. Enough is to visit the farmer's market, chat with the ladies and they will be glad to share with you their favorite recipes. It won't be high cuisine but it will be unfussy, simple, comfort and healthy food that evokes memories from all year round. Returning to the roots using as much local ingredients is the future of gastronomy. We are sometimes overwhelmed with all the information that we are faced with regarding cooking and it often scares people away and they see it as an impossible skill to acquire. Cooking shouldn’t be complicated, it should be an enjoyable activity to enrich our body and our mind and it also improves that social aspect of our life as well, bringing us all closer together. The first important step to take should be understanding the importance of eating fresh produce and diverse food in general that follows each season so here are some of my favorite:
Spring – young lamb, young goat, wild asparagus, wild chicory, fava beans, artichokes, spring onion, strawberries, cherries, young potatoes
Summer- tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, green beans, peppers, cucumbers, japanese plum, apricots, peaches, figs
Autumn- pumpkin, quince, pomegranates, grapes, swisschard, cauliflower, kale, tangerines, pears, brussel sprouts
Winter - raštika ( dark green cabbage), bitter oranges, lemons, apples, dried pork or mutton meat, lentil, chickpeas, sour cabbage, beetroot, turnip, carrots