The great foodwriter Elizabeth David wrote thus of summer food: “Meals will be primitive…entirely delicious because perfectly appropriate to the time, the place and the circumstances…You are on holiday. You are in company of your own choosing. The air is clean. I ask no greater luxury. Indeed I can think of none.”
Having enjoyed a few warm days recently, I may perhaps have come over all wistful and romantic prematurely. Peaked a touch early maybe, but when summertime arrives, pretty girls put on floaty dresses, the babies smell all of sun-cream and strawberries, it’s then that I turn to dear old Mrs David.
The best summer food is indeed primitive in its simplicity and so much the better for it. At the time of writing it is the eve of the Summer Solstice (call me disorganised would you? I wrote this a good week ago dear Reader!), and traditionally tomorrow is the day that the last of the asparagus is harvested. Cheerio spring, hello summer. So the ‘grass may be gone, but for me the primitive gobblings will be peas fresh from the pod, strawbs straight from the punnet, ice creams direct from the jingly-jangly van. Elizabeth David was a partisan of lustiness, and summer food is sexy. Have you ever podded a pea or picked a crab with someone you’re likely to spend the night with? You should try it.
With a bit of luck – the Met Office don’t unfortunately seem so optimistic – we may enjoy a few more days of alfresco dining over the next few months. Lounging around all Bridesheady and Cider with Rosieish on picnic rugs and up against hayricks. Phwoar.
In my little garden the first broad beans are just appearing. And by the time you’re reading this I reckon they may well be ready. I love a broad bean, in their cool fluffy pods. I will commit vegetal infanticide and harvest them when the beans are no larger than a little fingernail. As affords such a seasonal treat, I will go to the bother of blanching them in boiling water for a brief minute, chilling them in iced water, and then popping each one out of its tiny jacket. Tossed around in the best virgin olive oil you can afford (do me a favour with this rapeseed malarkey – there’s a time and a place, maybe), the teeniest squirt of lemon juice and a little chopped mint, this is a moment I look forward to every year.
Although the longest day has been and gone, summer is only just beginning. Enjoy the seasonal treats that come your way because round here we have them in fleeting abundance. Come rain or shine, it’s an opportunity that’s too delicious to be missed.