Despite the prolonged wet weather, it’s the high season for summer fruits. And while I don’t have the luxury of a garden myself, I have one or two friends who have a seasonal surplus of delicious things. This week I’ve been enjoying gooseberries – one of my favourite summer fruits – together with assorted leaves described generically as stir-fry but which Christine (from whose garden they come) tells me she prefers to steam.
I tried both with the latter, and I think I agree they were better steamed. But maybe it’s not a fair comparison, as I’ve just eaten the steamed leaves together with exotic wild mushrooms in a creamy sauce on pasta, with an Italian white wine that proved to be utterly delicious, too. And gooseberry fool with espresso to follow.
I’d love my own garden, and at this time of year I’d want it to yield fresh peas and beans, as well as gooseberries and raspberries. But ideally there should be fresh produce all year, so for example apples and plums for the autumn, and root vegetables for the more challenging winter season. Yum.
On a sad note, this year’s strawberry season has been disappointing, with supermarket ones being downright bad. I suspect the wet weather is largely responsible, but we supposedly also have a crisis in recruiting pickers: farmers’ atrocious exploitation of casual workers catching up with them (over half a century after industrial employers had to improve conditions for their workers). Would I pay more for decent strawberries? This year I’ve had no choice: the only ones worth eating have been a lot more expensive. Or rather, the same price as a supermarket punnet, for less than half the quantity.