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Peaches in January?

What has happened to seasonal foods?

I always enjoyed the sights and smells when I entered the produce department in the grocery store signaling the changing seasons. We now have artificial stimuli in the stores and the stores promote items depending on the season as if it were just arriving and not always available.

I expect to see the annual display of canned tuna fish, macaroni and cottage cheese as Lent approaches, but of course they are available year-round.

I always waited for the first watermelon (even if it wasn't at its sweetest) around Memorial Day. Ah! The beginning of summer. Strawberries in June, peaches at their best in late July and by the end of August their abrupt exit. Blue grapes were around for about two weeks in September signaling the beginning of Fall.

Cherry season was short and people would spend long periods of time at the counter picking out the darkest, firmest ones. (Many grocery stores have caught on to that and now sell them in plastic bags; the good the bad and the spoiled, take it or leave it.)

Cherries

We had turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a real treat. Pumpkin pie for dessert. Lamb and asparagus were a sign of spring. You can get lamb any month of the year now. It's not cheap, but it's available.

Clambakes were in the Fall (the only time the clams were available here). I thought we could only have shell fish if there was a letter "R" in the month. Shrimp is in the grocery ads every week now and often cheaper than meat.

Due to the world getting smaller and deliveries arriving much faster you can get just about anything anytime from your local store not to mention the internet.

Last week (January) peaches were on sale for ninety nine cents. That's less then I paid in July. They came from Chile as I guess a lot of these fruits and vegetables do. They were, to my surprise, very sweet. Still it just wasn't the same.

Peaches

Instant gratification isn't all it's cracked up to be; the wait and anticipation are an important part of the enjoyment.

Less is more. A good example of that (and we all have experienced it) is when you try the samples in the store. You get a little taste and it's the best ever. So you buy a package of it, get it home and wonder what the big deal was.

I remember the hot summer days when we'd make a pitcher of ice tea for the first time.

Ice tea and pitcher

What a treat. Now it's always in our refrigerator at home and all the restaurants serve it. Still good but just not the same.

How about looking forward to coming home on a cold winter day for that hot cup of coffee? Now we don't have to wait. Stop at Starbucks or any fast food place and you don't even have to get out of the car. On top of that you can drink it while you drive home.

A friend and I preserved peaches one August - we worked for three days. Finally we each had 9 jars to serve our families during the 'dry season'. This is an art that has about gone by the way side. Partially because it's cheaper to buy them but also because they are now available not only canned but frozen and fresh. Let's face it they taste better too.

My mother made chili sauce one year. It was exhausting work. We had loads of jars. I wondered why she did it because we used only a few jars all year. After a couple of years she threw most of them away because she was afraid they were no longer good.

I think the stocking up of food items probably goes back to the cave men or at least the covered wagon days. We never completely trained ourselves that it isn't necessary anymore.

Our dogs still do their thing burying their bones. We once had a dog who stole a bagel! He hid it under the cushion on the couch. I took it when he wasn't looking and every day he went to see if it reappeared. What was he to do in the "dry season" when food might not be left unattended?

Do you still have supplies left from stocking up for Y2K?

Everything is easier and more accessible now but don't you really miss the hunt? I often do.

However I still like the idea of chocolate covered strawberries in February.

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Pat


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