what's in season: july

gooseberries - by Margaret Young
Gooseberry Fool 
The gooseberry’s no doubt an oddity,
an outlaw or pariah even—thorny
and tart as any
kindergarten martinet, it can harbor
like a fernseed, on its leaves’ under-
side, bad news for pine trees,
whereas the spruce
resists the blister rust
it’s host to. That veiny Chinese
lantern, its stolid jelly
of a fruit, not only has
no aroma but is twice as tedious
as the wild strawberry’s sunburst
stem-end appendage: each one must
be between-nail-snipped at both extremities.

Altogether, gooseberry virtues
take some getting
used to, as does trepang,
tripe à la mode de Caen,
or having turned thirteen.
The acerbity of all things green
and adolescent lingers in
it—the arrogant, shrinking,
prickling-in-every-direction thorn-
iness that loves no company except its,
or anyhow that’s what it gets:
bristling up through gooseberry ghetto sprawl
are braced thistles’ silvery, militantly symmetrical
defense machineries. Likewise inseparably en-
tangled in the disarray of an
uncultivated childhood, where gooseberry bushes (since
rooted out) once flourished, is
the squandered volupté of lemon-
yellow-petaled roses’ luscious flimflam—
an inkling of the mingling into one experience
of suave and sharp, whose supremely im-
probable and far-fetched culinary
embodiment is a gooseberry fool.

Tomorrow, having stumbled into
this trove of chief ingredients
(the other being very thickest cream)
I’ll demonstrate it for you. Ever since,
four summers ago, I first brought you,
a gleeful Ariel, the trophy
of a small sour handful,
I’ve wondered what not quite articulated thing
could render magical
the green globe of an unripe berry.
I think now it was simply
the great globe itself’s too much to carry.

Amy Clampitt,1920 – 1994

I get so excited in July. If June is a dreamy, soft focus kind of month in muted pink. Then July is bright and full of sunshine colours with food to match. Unfortunately this year's June was one of the wettest since records began and frankly was a little grey. When the French wrote a proverb "A summer's sun is worth the having", I can only assume that they were having a sly dig at their neighbours across the English Channel! But ever the optimist, particularly where food is concerned, I am hoping that the sun will truly come out this month, for a British summer, no matter how fleeting, is really a thing of beauty, something to savour.

This time last year I was having adventures in food with my friend Heathcliffe; we were having tapas and mezze parties, my favourite food to celebrate the sunshine and summer dining. When the weather is warm, I just want to sit in the garden with friends, with a couple of bottles of chilled wine and plates of antipasto, tapas or mezze. I love this kind of food; sunshine dishes that burst with tantalising flavours!

July is a bumper month for soft fruit and salad vegetables, from apricots, gooseberries and cherries, to courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes.

vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (globe), aubergines, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli (calabrese), cabbages (various varieties), carrots, cauliflower, celery, chanterelles, chard, courgettes, cucumber, fennel, french beans, garlic, horseradish, kohlrabi, lambs lettuce, lettuce, mangetout, new potatoes, onions, oyster mushrooms, pak choi, peas, potatoes, purslane, radishes, rocket, sage, samphire, sorrel, spinach, sugarsnap peas, tomatoes, watercress, wild fennel

fruit and nuts:
apricots (imported), blackcurrants, blueberries, cherries, elderflowers, gooseberries, loganberries, nectarines, peaches, raspberries, redcurrants, strawberries, tayberries, white currants, wild strawberries

meat and game:
rabbit, wood pigeon

fish and shellfish:black bream, crab (brown, hen and spider), clams, freshwater crayfish, cuttlefish, lobster, mackerel, pilchards, pollack, river trout (brown and rainbow), scallops, sea bass, sea trout

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