Spring: Invite the Unexpected

Open your door: Spring is knocking

lavendar

Well, don’t literally open your door, because winter is still throwing its tantrums outside. Winter will not get its way, however, and spring—sweet, green spring—is a matter of weeks away. What you may want to open up is your pantry door. With spring comes a host of new flavors, from first crops to international novelties, and possibilities for fresh beginnings are blossoming. Comfort food will always have its place, but it’s time to sweep clean the hearth and take a few steps out of the comfort zone.

Enter into a world of flavor fusion. With our markets globalizing and local crops beginning to make their first appearances, spring is the perfect time to blend home-cooked with far-from-home flavors. We’re not in Kansas, anymore. Sunshine inspires homemade cold treats, like lemon-thyme sorbet, mango ice-cream with hot chilies or strawberry gelato with balsamic vinegar and basil. Matcha green tea will go nicely in frozen yogurt with orange, walnuts, and ginseng.

It’s true that our taste buds are changing. We’re more aware of other flavors, and it’s time to take them on a few adventures. Brussels sprouts used to be something our grandparents force-fed us, but no longer. Now, we roast them over fire with curry and cashews. Let’s season our almonds with North African za-atar, or pickle watermelon rinds with citrus and ginger. Modify our pineapple upside down cake to make it far more interesting with jack fruit and local buckwheat honey.

Our options have multiplied, and with them the many culinary roads we may take. Spring is a time for blazing trails. Chocolate and hazelnuts now host garden parties with cinnamon and chili. All the things we adore about raw honey, the way it tastes swirled with almond butter, why don’t we see how those things go with protein-dense Greek yogurt? Or how about we try making homemade palm-sugar syrup to drizzle over avocado mousse? This blueberry-lavender cupcake would be lovely garnished with toasted aniseed and sugared pansies. Perhaps we’ll add a little soy sauce to our chocolate soufflé.

Chili and Chocolate
Chili and Chocolate

It’s time to open our eyes to the potential of spring. Crocuses are sending up their shoots, and it’s our turn to stretch out our feelers for a little sunshine. Try growing your own bean sprouts, perhaps—they’ll be great in a salad of arugula, cilantro, and pequin peppers. Toss together figs, goat cheese, and fenugreek for your flatbread. Combine curly parsley, red beets, carrot juice, sweet peas…why yes, we’re making a chocolate cake. If it is fresh, if it is bold, if it is tasty, then why not?

So go ahead: open your door. See what your local farmers are producing, meet the apiary owner down the street, and till up a little soil of your own. Then, go find what you haven’t tried before, and try it. Local and global both have a place in our kitchens, just as clean, healthy food can make our taste buds sing. Our minds are opening as consumers, and our hearts are opening as creators, friends, and tasters. It’s time to shake the dust out of our curtains and let some air in—spring is here. Let’s eat.