One of the joys of eating seasonally is how wonderful the first taste of a new crop seems, each and every time. Part of this is the novelty, the change of pace when you’ve gotten tired of the previous season’s stand-bys. And part of it is satisfying the anticipation you’ve felt while waiting for it. Oh, the first bite of fresh corn on the cob–extra late in the mild British summers!
For that reason, I always aim to serve the ‘first one’ of the season as simply as possible, with little or no added flavours. It’s an opportunity to truly experience what that food tastes like. The first serving of the crop is often a small and tender representative of the product, so minimal processing is necessary for digestibility. For both fruits and vegetables, this means serving raw if possible, very lightly steamed or gently sauteed or boiled if necessary.
Each new ‘first one’ is given centre stage, no matter how small the quantity. So if it’s a salad food, like baby radishes, it goes next to or on top of the rest of the salad, where we can see it as well as taste it. If it’s steamed or boiled, then nothing goes on it–no salt, pepper or butter. Fruit is served simply, in a bowl, on its own. There’ll be plenty of time for enhancements later.