2012 Winter Issue 7 (February 24, 2012)
On defying the conventions of seasonal fruits
February 24, 2012
By Zoe Suche
There’s a mood that pervades Carleton around this time of term; it’s eighth week, and we’re moving worryingly quickly toward the end of term. The workloads that students have been shouldering these past two months have grown uncomfortably heavy; participation in extracurricular activities gets more difficult and drops off, and we start to look ahead to that ‘primal scream’ that happens once a term during reading days. During times like these, it’s sometimes hard to remember to be nice to yourself on occasion; in my opinion, such a situation is only made worse by the fact that it’s February, there’s nothing to do in Northfield, and the weather can’t seem to make up its mind. When we look at this time of year with a very realistic eye, the truth is painfully present: unless someone did something really nice for you on Valentine’s Day, there’s really nothing good about February. It’s one of those months you spend waiting for it to end. With the fact in mind that we are reaching the end of one of the most mediocre months of the year, I’d like to say a little about seasonal fruit. When looking for a good recipe through a familiar food blog, you don’t just scroll through chronologically; a good blog has a search function, and ideally a page of recipes with tantalizing thumbnail pictures. Lately, on looking through for exciting dessert recipes, I’ve run across a familiar pattern: adages in the post saying things like “this recipe is great because your peaches will be in season!” and “this is just the right pumpkin recipe as Thanksgiving comes around.” I admit, fruits and vegetables do come into and go out of season, but I think it’s a rather grim proposal that, as well as subjecting ourselves to the depression of Minnesota winter, we accept that certain treats are off-season or shouldn’t be made right now. Because let’s be honest: obviously, no good fruit is specially in-season in February. There isn’t really anything nice that is specially in-season in February, which is why we have to work harder at this time of year than any other to actually enjoy ourselves. Over the weekend, I made a peach crisp. The peaches did, I admit, look dubious at first. They didn’t have that exciting ripe-peach color to them, and their consistency was so nectarine-like that I was pretty sure at one point that Econo had mislabelled them. But—and this is the important part—when you put peaches into a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes, it doesn’t matter when you take them out whether they were in-season or not. That crisp was delicious. So was the pumpkin-quinoa bake I made last week, FAR removed from Thanksgiving. Pumpkin and quinoa seemed like an incongruous combination at first, but the result was like eating dessert for dinner. Or maybe it was eating dessert for dinner. My point is this: there are a lot of things working against us at this time of year. There’s the problem of this half-winter, leaving us with dreary grey skies and slippery, slushy paths; there’s the problem of eighth week, with the work piling up; and there’s the problem that most of us admit defeat too easily when it comes to enjoying ourselves around this time of year. No matter how busy you are, everyone has time to indulge, and I urge you to do so, whether the fruit is in-season or not.
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