Sunday, June 03, 2007

Seasonal Salads

Having been raised in NY, a half a century ago, when "salad" was a euphemism for lettuce and tomatoes, I was totally disoriented when I made aliyah in 1970 and couldn't find them easily in the market.

The lettuce I knew was that white crisp, iceberg, and the tomatoes were reliable with a long shelf-life.

When we docked in September, 1970, there were cucumbers and tomatoes on sale, but soon they were hard-to-find luxury items. Veteran Israelis explained that in the winter, we were supposed to eat cabbage. And when we bought felafel, we noticed that the salad evolved from red to pale green.

Israeli agriculture quickly evolved, due to "hot houses," covered vegetable-growing "fields," and the use of warmer farmlands in the Jordan Valley and the Sinai. Before I had fully adjusted to the austere Israeli reality we had entered, everything was available all seasons.

With the agricultural innovations of Gush Katif, "bug-less" (hah! I always checked and usually found something) lettuce became an all season staple, including the very buggy summer. Salad lovers find Israel to be heaven, with a great variety of greens, yellows, oranges, reds, purples and sprouted seeds of all shapes and tastes.

While most people today have one standard salad, I've reverted to the seasonal. Lettuce leaves are for the winter now. It makes sense that my summer salad is filled with water-heavy cucumbers and tomatoes when it's hot and root vegetables when it's cold.

In addition, I ignore citrus in the summer, since it's a winter fruit, and I'm not interested in grapes and other summer fare in the winter.

Baruch Hashem, thank G-d, there's plenty of seasonal foods to eat.


tnspr569 said...

The produce here is so much better than in America.

Even if the bug free vegetables don't seem perfect, it's much better than the situation in America. Some vegetables have simply been "banned" due to insect infestation, and there are some pretty ridiculous inspection procedures for others. Then again, pesticide use has been reduced in America, hence the "infestation". Some still don't believe that there are bugs in vegetables at all.

RR said...

Whenever my mother comes to visit, she can't get enough of our tomatoes and cukes- the cukes, especially, because they're small and so are their seeds- as opposed to the giant American cukes with their big, hard seeds.

muse said...

t' and rr,
yes, I agree.
We have great food here, and it's easy to eat "seasonal."