Spring has arrived in Paris and with it the celebration of the spring vegetables and fruit that define the season far more reliably than the weather.
While the sky might still change from beautiful, crisp and clear in the morning to offering a drizzle in the afternoon, the sight of plump, wildly red strawberries, bright green beans, massive white asparagus, and the uniquely textured morel mushrooms, are more dependable signifiers of the change of seasons.
When walking the streets of Paris we see the new season produce brings a smile to the faces of locals and gasps of awe from foreigners. The locals start rehearsing spring recipes in their heads while purchasing the newly-arrived goodies, while the tourists wonder whether that asparagus will wilt on the flight home.
We have the best of both worlds – being able to try the produce in the restaurants (look for ones that feature seasonal produce on their daily menus) as well as being able to take some ‘home’ to our holiday rental and enjoy it how we like to cook it.
In Spring in Paris, the markets lead the way when it comes to eating, perhaps more so than in any other season. In the restaurants so far, we’ve had divine, earthy morels in a decadent mushroom velouté and a vibrant pea soup so fresh and green it was like a vitamin injection.
But probably the best example of the use of seasonal produce was the white asparagus we had served simply with a fine hollandaise sauce. Now that’s letting the ingredients speak for themselves!
The end of the season here spells the end of heavier winter dishes such as bœuf Bourguignon as well as the end of the best of the oysters – at least until later this year.
Now everyone is looking forward to spring and then summer, drinks at outdoor cafés and bars, and strolls through the parks safe in the knowledge that when the spring fruit and vegetables arrive, spring is coming – even if the weather is putting up a struggle to let go of winter!