what's in season: July

Henry's summer rose
Sonnet (in The Story of a Round-House - 1915)
Is there a great green commonwealth of Thought
Which ranks the yearly pageant, and decides
How Summer's royal progress shall be wrought,
By secret stir which in each plant abides?
Does rocking daffodil consent that she,
The snowdrop of wet winters, shall be first?
Does spotted cowslip with the grass agree
To hold her pride before the rattle burst?
And in the hedge what quick agreement goes,
When hawthorn blossoms redden to decay,
That Summer's pride shall come, the Summer's rose,
Before the flower be on the bramble spray?
Or is it, as with us, unresting strife,
And each consent a lucky gasp for life?
John Masefield, 1878-1967
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 yet another washout - bah! 

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.

I hope that this year I shall be having more tapas and mezze adventures in food with my friend Heathcliffe; that we can celebrate the sunshine, summer dining and my favourite food. 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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