February doesn’t strike me as the month for salads but people seem to be panicking about where their next Iceberg lettuce is coming from. The rain in Spain has been devastating the salad crops which we import from there.
Doesn’t bother me. I did what I always do when I want some salad: I did a sport of foraging. I didn’t have to go far, either. Just down the bottom of the garden.
The red sorrel which grows like weed (that’s because it is a weed) has just started to come into leaf, as has my clump of lemon sorrel and perpetual beet spinach. And there are tender young dandelion leaves just waiting to be picked. If this shortage lasts just pop an upturned flowerpot over some healthy specimens to exclude the light and blanch the leaves to make them less bitter.
I know celery is also part of the Great Salad Shortage but it’s worth buying a head. Unless you get them from a farmers’ market most of the leaves will have been cut off but there are usually enough nestling down among the stalks to make a salad. They are also a very useful herb. The stalks also go in so you get two for the price of one. Then just grate up a carrot and you’re done.
Perhaps this shortage is teaching us lesson to eat seasonally. I grew up through Februaries when tomatoes and lettuce were non existent and my parents wouldn’t have known what an aubergine was if it was put in front of them. It’s been said many times before but we’ve lost the thrill of the first strawberries, asparagus and the like coming into season because they are available all year round. Perhaps this shortage is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of what might happen if our trading patterns broke down.