Spring Vegetables

by The Gilded Fork

by Jennifer L. Iannolo

Small things always seem to have an air of cuteness, don’t they?  A baby carrot is adorable because it is trying to look like a grownup, but can’t quite get there.

Thank goodness for such things — its petite nature gives it the most wonderful sweetness one could desire from a vegetable.  Baby peas, baby squash, baby bok choy — you name it, and the nursery is bursting with flavor and color.

For those eager to shrug off the doldrums of winter’s menus, the arrival of spring and its newborns promises a renewed sense of lightness for our palates.  Out with the root vegetables; it is time for delicious salads and side dishes.

It is interesting to note what the body craves based on the weather: A salad is most unpalatable in the midst of winter, when all I want is to dig into a bowl of garlicky mashed potatoes, or pasta with a creamy mushroom sauce.  But offer me those things now and I am likely to scrunch my nose.

Besides, at this time of year my body is telling me that those mashed potatoes have created a bit of winter padding that must disappear in readiness for warm weather.  And bikinis.  Perish the thought.

And so I head to the market with a renewed fervor, eager to see what awaits me.  My head spins with the site of morels, baby lettuce, asparagus, and of course, those cute carrots.

Suddenly my palate springs to life with a desire for lightly sautéed dishes and cold pasta salads.  I am enraptured by the shades of color ready to be melded into a masterpiece of freshness.  I know they are merely a foreshadowing of the tomatoes of summer, but for now they sate me.

My cooking genes seem to come out of hibernation as well.  I often find that in the wintertime, I am simply not feeling as creative as I could when it comes to preparing a meal.  One can only partake of so many roots, and I don’t feel as inspired by what winter has to offer my stomach.

But spring, sweet spring…the senses reawaken in time to inhale the aromas of fresh herbs in the back garden, the flowers on the windowsill, and the sunshine that warms us with a glow that erases the chill of early darkness and ugly skies.

I have repainted the kitchen in a lovely shade of sage with crisp white cabinets.  The setting is a most appropriate one for this feeling of rebirth.

Jennifer Iannolo is the founder and editor-in-chief of Gastronomic Meditations™.

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