En saison: What to put on your plate in April
Because the French never eat strawberries in winter and even different types of goat’s cheese have seasonality...
Apple, rhubarb, some early strawberries.
Spinach or leeks are dropped from the menu in favour of watercress, asparagus and peas. Fine herbs such as parsley, dill, chives, oregano, savory, sage, coriander and tarragon also become abundant, while beets, celery, cauliflower, endive, onion are still available.
Salads to use: batavia, curly, romaine.
Focus on: watercress
A herbaceous plant, watercress belongs to the Cruciferous family, just like cabbage, broccoli and turnip. Originally from the Middle East, this leafy vegetable was mainly used for its medicinal properties. It was not until the 19th century that watercress cultivation appeared. Today, it is mainly produced in the Essonne and Seine-Maritime departments.
Focus on: peas
From the “Fabaceae” family, peas are the kings of spring: green, tender, crunchy and slightly sweet. In France, most of the production is located in the southeast, the Garonne Valley, Brie and Beauce regions, with most of the vegetables destined for the frozen food market – the fresh produce market remains small due to the cost of production. In figures: consumption of peas is estimated at 2.2kg per year per inhabitant, including 250g of fresh peas for shelling.
Recipe: Cold soup of peas, roasted almonds and spring herbs
Choose extra-light and fresh peas. Peel and chop a shallot. Sauté it in a tablespoon of olive oil, without colouring it too much. Add 75cl of vegetable stock. Add the peas and simmer for about 15 minutes. Mix and place in the refrigerator. Brown the almonds in a frying pan, stirring constantly. Chop the herbs (eg mint). Pour the fresh soup into individual bowls, sprinkle with herbs and almonds.
Fish, shellfish and crustaceans
Fish have a season depending on reproduction and fishing cycles. Eating in season also means respecting the biodiversity of species and preserving nature. In season: mackerel, haddock, langoustine, whiting and turbot.
Focus on: turbot
From April to August, turbot is particularly sought-after, just before its laying period, because this is when it is fattest. With its particularly tasty flesh, it belongs to the same family as halibut and plaice and is one of the finest sea fish.
The turbot is flat, diamond-shaped and measures between 40 and 80cm. Its main landing ports are Dunkirk, Boulogne, Brest, Le Guilvinec, Les Sables-d’Olonne and Arcachon.
In France, there is a red label for aquaculture (farmed fish) turbot called “Turbot et découpes de turbot d’aquaculture marine”. It complies with strict specifications and rules that require a natural diet based on marine products, perfect traceability from birth to the point of sale, etc.
Quality is also guaranteed by a sales deadline (nine days for whole fresh turbot and seven days for cuts).