One of my favorite 20th-century painters is a British artist named David Hockney. While he is widely considered a “Pop” artist, his paintings tend to be anything but. His range is from baroque to cubism and he was one of the first to dabble in Photorealism. All of that is to explain who he is. Why is he one of my favorite artists? Viewing his work always causes an emotional reaction in me that may be exhilaration, despair, or may make me laugh. This year’s spring being such a beautiful spring, I found myself thinking about David Hockney and some of his paintings which made me feel like spring. Here is what he says about paintings of spring:
“I had always planned to make a large painting of the early spring, when the first leaves are at the bottom of the trees, and they seem to float in space in a wonderful way. But the arrival of spring can’t be done in one picture.”
So each day of spring is another piece of that picture. To me, that’s beautiful after such a confusing warm-then-cold-then-warm-then-cold-again winter. Now we can start looking forward to some new spring food to start showing up in markets. Let’s check out what we can expect on a month by month basis. Just like Hockney’s description of spring, the arrival of springtime fruits and vegetables can’t be done in one “picture” – there are so many flavors and textures to choose from! So what is growing this time of year?
April – we’re already seeing Ramps, the flat-leafed wild onions which are prized for the fresh, pungent flavor. But also in April, we will begin to see the end of winter’s storage crops like carrots, beets, some onions, and turnips. Some spring produce is beginning to trickle in from the southeast such as greens, radishes, and scallions. I’ve even been buying fresh strawberries from a farm in North Carolina.
May – Watch for the markets to become quite plentiful with radishes, leafy greens (spinach, green and red leaf lettuces, and some different kinds of young kale). With herbs, cilantro and dill are postured to steal the show! If we are lucky we may get the first of this year’s tender shoots of asparagus but, if so, it will be late in May for the local crops. Also coming up from farms in the southeast are such crops as summer squash, cucumbers, new crops of broccoli and bunched beets. Maybe, depending on weather, fresh blueberries!
June – Locally we should start seeing our northeast strawberries and blueberries. On the vegetable front, two of my favorites spring garlic and spring onions make their appearance. Of course, we will continue to see the continuation of bitter salad greens including Castelfranco, endive, and radicchio. When the weather gets consistently warm, watch for summer squashes and various bell peppers, sugar snap peas and asparagus – these fruits and vegetables help clue us in that we’re moving from spring to summer!
Now I’m getting excited and can hardly wait for the tomatoes and stone fruits of July – luckily we have lots of delicious fruits and vegetables available right now to help us celebrate spring!
Here are some delicious recipes, chocked full of seasonal veggies to try to get you in a spring mood:
Ramps & Bacon Quesadilla, Oven-Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese, Spring Pea Salad with Radishes and Feta Cheese