Aren't these little pears beautiful? I found them recently at our grocery store. They are called Honey Belles, from New Zealand. They are in season now in New Zealand.
Here in Singapore, we are half a degree above the equator, so there are no seasons. How can I eat seasonally? Is it even worth it?
Singapore is very small and so not much food is actually grown here. Our "local" foods arrive from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the rest of South East Asia. (I assume that) the foods that grow near here in Asia grow year round. The foods that don't grow here, we import from somewhere else.
A few years ago I read a book about local and seasonal eating, Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly (see my review here) that convinced me that food miles are not the only consideration when picking food. (They are easily calculated, though.) So I have now become more picky about the quality of food I buy rather than how close to me it was grown. Thankfully there are lots of choices in Singapore that are both relatively local and good quality.
Another aspect of the seasonal food movement is simplicity, which I also love, as you know.
In the article "Is Seasonal Eating Overrated?" in Best Food Writing 2013, Katherine Wheelock mentions the beginnings of the seasonal food trend. "Alice Waters founded Chez Panisse in Berkeley [California]. She established the hallmarks of seasonal cooking: locally grown ingredients, simply prepared." But Wheelock says that many restaurants have taken the "simply prepared" part of this manifesto too far.
Seasonal food has become boring, she says. She describes an onslaught of kale salads at all the restaurants she visited last winter. She asserts that chefs should cook seasonally but show more ingenuity in creating an unexpected or magical dish from those seasonal, local ingredients.
Wheelock mentions a chef who changes his menus regularly, "without fanfare. You are not expected to applaud him for noticing that celeriac is in its prime--you are expected to applaud him for thinking to marry it with mascarpone, scallions and Piave" (a hard Italian cheese).
So when I saw these beautiful pears at the store, I looked for a way to use them creatively. This baked custard topped with pear slices is from Donna Hay's website. The base is a plain vanilla custard and it is topped with thin slices of pear. It could also be made with any other sliced fruit such as apples, bananas, star fruit, or peaches. Be sure to slice them very thinly since the uncooked custard is quite liquid and you need the slices to be light enough so they won't sink in.
This recipe is part of the Wednesdays with Donna Hay blogging group. If you want to join us, next week we are making tahini, cumin, and buttermilk marinated chicken from Donna Hay Magazine, issue 68, April/May 2013. Contact one of us to see the recipe.
It was catch-up week this week. Visit the others in my blogging group to see the recipes they posted: Margaret from Tea and Scones and Gaye from Laws of the Kitchen.
Do you try to eat seasonally or locally?
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