Our fearless leaders, Jeremy and Amanda, recently traveled to Europe on a mission to better understand vegetable varieties and seasonal eating. They wound up in France, England, Italy, Spain, and Portugal and had the time of their lives going to outdoor produce markets and experiencing European views on veggies. Here's what they saw:
1. Vegetables tend to be sold as they are with roots and leaves attached.
2. Popular fruits and vegetables are not necessarily the same ones we see in the United States. Traveling is a fun opportunity to try foods and preparations that are new and different, like this Oca du Perou!
3. Location is everything in terms of fresh, seasonal produce. Seafood is popular in Lisbon, Portugal because of it's physical proximity to the ocean. Right now the markets in Porto, Portugal are full of dark leafy greens that make for tasty soups and stews. Here is one recipe you can try now!
4. Access to fresh produce is much greater overall. In addition to supermarkets, there were a greater number of year-round markets for fresh meat, seafood and veggies. Each neighborhood tended to have a permanent market, comparable to our farmer's markets, in addition to a greater number of specialty shops providing bread, meat, cheese or farm-fresh produce and eggs.
5. Non-seasonal items were available, but made up only a small part of what was available. The emphasis on seasonality was much more evident in European markets.
The markets Jeremy and Amanda visited were filled with darker and more vibrant seasonal veggies.
6. Restaurant menus were very focused on seasonal produce. Each restaurant they visited had a seasonal special or an entirely seasonal menu.
Bonus of traveling in the winter: Delicious eating!
In our ongoing quest to perfect vegetable gardening, traveling will always be an incredible resource for information and inspiration.
Eat Well, Garden Often. (and travel as much as possible!)