Summer Food and The Changing Palate

Beautiful, beautiful strawberries - Photo by Anushruti RK - http://flic.kr/p/4g6F96

Sunshine, you make me want berries. And salad. And grilled meat. This far-too-wet, far-too-gray spring finally brightens into a nascent summer. I'm sure that, like me, you Dear Reader are feeling the palate shift, feeling a hunger, a need, for comfort, sustenance, and conviviality that comes only from summer food.

The sky clears and the stomach rumbles. Appetite shifts like the weather, and with the weather.

It seems so long ago now, when summer dimmed and cooled to fall and winter. I remember my hankering increase for thick stews, chewy bread, rich meat, citrus fruit, root vegetables and dark beer (sometimes all in the same meal). To stew and roast and bake was divine, preferably with the wood and pellet stoves gently warming our home, our skin, our bones, right down through our thick hand-knit sweaters.

Then spring buds began greening our gray world, and lighter fare became acceptable again. Beef stew gave way to salmon chowder. Dense wheat and rye breads became more interspersed with Italian-style semolina loaves. The occasional salad, topped with a simple oil and balsamic vinegar, returned as a piquant delight, bright in color and flavor.

Now summer is calling. So too does the appetite change again.

The other night, Jodie and I dined with friends. We grilled chicken, Hungarian sausages, flat breads, and asparagus. Porter, red ale, and ciders accompanied. Dessert was a simple majesty of fresh red strawberries and ice cream. We basked in sunshine and fresh air, free to be outdoors in t-shirts again. It was our prelude to summer, to all the warm days and nights to come. These warm memories will enliven the warm season, yes, but so too will they sustain us when the world turns cold and dark again.

There is nothing like summer dining in the Northwest. The world is green, the sky is blue (well, at least it was when I wrote this, but we're not in the all-clear yet), and the food is coming from farm to table again. Let us revel in fresh fruit and grilled meat. Clink with me a glass lager, pale ale, or weiss.

Let us dine in the Northwest summer, and know what it is to be truly alive.

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