|a parade of pumpkin carriages|
There was a yellow pumpkin
Born on a pumpkin-patch,
As clumsy as a 'potamus,
As course as cottage-thatch.
It longed to be a gooseberry
A greengage, or a grape,
It longed to give another scent
And have another shape.
The roses looked askane at it,
The lilies looked away,
"This thing is neither fruit nor flower!"
Their glances seemed to say.
One shiny night of midsummer,
When even fairies poach,
A good one waved her wand and said,
"O Pumpkin! Be a coach!"
A coach of gold! A coach of glass"
A coach with satin lined!
If you should seek a thousand years,
Such you would not find.
The Princess in her crystal shoes
Eager for the dance
Stepped inside the pumpkin-coach
And rolled to her romance.
The roses reached out after it,
The lilies looked its way -
"O that we were pumpkins too!"
Their glances seemed to say.
Eleanor Farjeon, 1861-1965
It's hard to talk about what's seasonal this month, when the temperature is grazing 30C on the first of October. I know I should be talking about apples and pears; mentioning that all those wonderful British root vegetables are getting their first look-in of the new season, such as Jerusalem artichokes and celeriac. I should mention that it is a great time for foraging mushrooms, or even just letting someone else do the work for you and buy the results at the local farmers' market. But it's really hard to focus on the wonder of British autumn fruits and vegetables when it is hotter outside than it is in the southern Mediterranean. I think I need to go and cool down!
But seriously, the first Bramley apples are now in season, as are plums and pears. This is crumble season! The Jerusalem artichoke season is just beginning and cauliflowers are at their peak, together with main crop potatoes and carrots, sprouts, and broccoli. Lettuce is running out by the middle of the month, and courgettes finish towards the end. But by the end of the month, pumpkins and squashes will be piling up (and I do like my pumpkin soup. Actually I love my mushroom soup too . . . perfect for the cold, damp evenings that will inevitably be arriving despite the current heatwave). And it really is a fabulous month to go foraging for mushrooms!
vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (globe), artichokes (Jerusalem), aubergines, beetroot, borlotti beans (for podding), broccoli (calabrese), Brussels sprouts, cabbages (various green varieties, red and white), carrots, cardoons, cauliflower, celeriac, chard, chanterelles, chicory, chillies, courgettes, cucumber, endive, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, leeks, marrow, mushrooms, nettles, onions, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins (and squashes), rocket, salsify, spinach, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, wood blewits
fruit and nuts:
apples, blackberries, chestnuts, crab apples, cranberries, damsons, elderberries, grapes
(English hothouse), hazelnuts, juniper berries, medlars, mulberries, pears, quince, raspberries, rosehips, rowan berries, sloes, walnuts
meat and game:beef, chicken, goose (wild), grouse, guinea fowl, hare, mallard, mutton, partridge, pork, rabbit, turkey, wood pigeon
fish and shellfish:
cockles, cod, crab (brown, hen and spider), eels, hake, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters (native and rock), prawns, river trout (brown and rainbow), salmon (wild), scallops, sea bass, shrimp, sprats, squidwhat's in season: october