Inspirations from the Markets

What a gastronomic adventure strolling around the street markets is. The vegetable and fruit stalls define the regional cuisines, outline the change of the seasons and inspire new recipes.

Last week I was in the South of France where I enjoyed the explosion of the asparagus and strawberries season. 

However, it was the ‘endiviette’ - a tiny yellow chicory salad – that attracted my attention in Valbonne’s market. For the first time in my life, I tasted the sweetness and tenderness of the young endive, which becomes slightly bitter and crunchy when it grows. A true delicacy. 

In Via Tabacchi, Milan, I enjoyed the abundance of the Mediterranean produce: from the last Sardinian spine artichokes, still delicate and tender,

 to the first Ligurian trombetta courgettes, so sweet and firm. Finely sliced, they are the perfect ingredients either for a frittata or for a last-minute pasta sauce.

I came across  boxes of splendid courgette flowers, ready to be coated in pastella and fried, 

and bunches of barbe del frate, delicious just blanched and dressed with a light vinaigrette.

But for me the new entry was ‘sivoni’ , a wild herb from Apulia, similar to the dandelion, on the market for only one month. It is both the seasonal and local produce which make spring cooking unique. Chatting away with a farmer, I discovered that Sivoni e fave bianche (sivoni and dried broad beans) is a traditional spring dish from Apulia. It sounds delicious.

Back in London, today in the local farm market I found the wild garlic leaves, which add a special flavour and body to any ordinary salad.

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