En saison: What to put on your plate in March
Because the French never eat strawberries in winter and even different types of goat’s cheese have seasonality...
Pear, apple, kiwi, lemon, pomelo and blood orange.
Carrot, celery, salsify, squash, spinach, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnip, onion, sorrel, radish, leek and potato, beets, Jerusalem artichoke, cabbage and spinach.
Focus on: leeks
With an annual harvest of about 180,000 tonnes, France is the leading leek producer in Europe. The main production regions are located in the Pays de la Loire, the Centre, Rhône-Alpes and Basse-Normandie. A winter vegetable par excellence, leek is very resistant to cold. The most suitable areas for cultivation combine sandy or silty soils with a temperate climate.
Fish, shellfish and crustaceans
Fish have a season depending on births and reproductions, or fishing cycles. Eating in season also means respecting the biodiversity of species and preserving nature.
Scallops, oysters, mackerel, sea bream, prawns, langoustines, pike, mussels, sardines, herring and whiting.
Herring speciality: A true institution of bistro cuisine from the north of France, is herring and potato in oil, which remains a starter dish of choice.
It is, however, not a simple as it seems to prepare – variables include the quality of herring, the oil, cooking of the potato, duration of maceration...
The prosperity of the town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, since the Middle Ages, has been linked to its fishing port and especially to the herring, whose preparation by the Boulonnais was internationally recognized.
Easy to fish, easy to store, very nutritious and not too expensive, herring has given its nickname to the North Atlantic: la mare aux Harengs (The Herring Sea). This “fish of the poor” lends itself thus to many regional dishes: hareng saur (buck-smoked herring), bouffi (slightly less salted), and more familiar kippers and rollmops marinated in vinegar.
Focus on: langoustines
This decapod crustacean (five pairs of legs) is from the same family as lobster. Sedentary and gluttonous, langoustines are also known as “Demoiselles” in Brittany, and have two different origins: the northern langoustine, which comes from deep-sea fishing; and the live langoustine from the Bay of Biscay, which comes from inshore fishing.
To cook langoustines, put them in a large pot of salted water (adding spices if you wish) and simmer for between two and four minutes, depending on the size of the shellfish then drain immediately.
Chef’s tip: the legs, heads and shell of the langoustine, once crushed, give an excellent flavour to soups and veloutés.