The other day I was having a conversation with a customer at the supermarket about the prices of some produce items because we were both impressed on the cost. The lady declared that the green onions were at a good price because they are locally grown right here in Ontario; to which she was correct. When supermarkets sell locally grown produce the prices are amazing because the buyers do not have to pay the extra money it takes to import produce from other countries. Once we agreed on this point we went on to talk about the quality of the fruits and vegetables when they are in season. The lady I was speaking with told me that when she was vacationing in South Africa, her relatives were shocking to learn that we had all kinds of produce all year round in our supermarkets. Of course the flavour and texture of some items are not the same as when grown locally. I attest to that! Every spring my parents begin the process of preparing the vegetable garden in their backyard. After a couple of weeks of cleaning out the vegetable patches, mulching, putting down new manure and planting a variety of produce items their garden starts to take shape. Every year my Mom likes to experiment with a new vegetable.
Last year it was kale, this year it’s cilantro, huacatay (a Peruvian Black Mint) and Aji Amarillo. Aside from these new additions to the vegetable patch my parents always grow the staples to any Greek kitchen: tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, an assortment of lettuces and herds. Luckily the weather in Toronto has been favourable to the growing season because we are already seeing the fruits of Mom and Dad’s labour come to light. I can’t wait to bite into that first red tomato that is picked every year around my birthday. The flavour is unmistakably delicious. The texture of the flesh is firm but juices not mushy and tasteless like the tomatoes we have year round in the markets. When making a traditional Greek Salad of tomatoes, cucumber and onions a small amount of dressing is needed to complement that fresh vegetables.
I’m excited about all the delicious dishes I’ll be making in the next several weeks from the produce from my parents’ vegetable garden. For my nephews 10th birthday on Canada Day I will be making hummus seasoned with mint and green onions, guacamole flavoured with homegrown cilantro and Tirokafteri spiced up with Hot Hungarian Peppers. For dinner tonight I’m going to make a refreshing Tuna Pasta Salad featuring dill and chives from the herb garden. Stay tuned for the recipes to follow.