Sunday, 22 April 2007

April in Paris

It appears that spring and I have chosen the same time to arrive in Paris. In the three weeks I have been living on rue St Bernard, not a drop of rain has fallen. The mornings have almost invariably been chilly and bright, the afternoons warm enough to make a sweater superfluous, with the daylight lingering far longer that I could have imagined possible. The park across from my office is a riot of green, splattered liberally with white and pink blossoms.

While the market still has some hoary old cabbage, the signs of printemps are undeniable here as well. Year-round crops have shed the heavy layers of winter: the leeks, newly-dug, are barely wider than my finger, the carrots not yet stubby, the garlic moister, milder, its cloves not yet fully separated.

New season salt-marsh lamb appeared just in time for Easter, painfully expensive and stupendously good, the texture melting, the flavour delicate and haunting. I’ve not yet tackled the artichokes, but one gentleman I saw was not even waiting for home and a pan of boiling water, content to tear off the still-supple leaves and eat them for a mid-morning snack.

And then there are the gariguettes. Slender and slightly elongated, these celebrated early-season strawberries lure the passer-by with an elegant fragrance reminiscent of fraise du bois (wild strawberries). Another factor in their status is the fact that they are non-remontante, each bush yielding only one batch of berries. And the taste? Slightly soft and yielding, sweet yet complex, perfectly accented with a dollop or two of crème fraiche but in no way lacking without.

I’m thrilled to be in London for a few days, but I’m really hoping that this blink-and-you-miss-it berry will still be there when I get back.

1 comment:

PLP said...

Ooh - Paris in springtime. We are at the other end of the strawberry season from you - just as you are gathering the new season's, Ian is experimenting with planting strawberry seeds in pots for next spring. Hopefully, they will be as tasty as yours. And we are moving into hearty, nourishing, cool-climate food - a cassoulet, and a fish pie by a comforting recipe from Fergus Henderson.

Hope you are well, PLP