You don’t need to be a calendar-driven chef to know that there are flavors for every season. Spring‘s asparagus and artichokes segue into summer‘s tomatoes and strawberries. Some tastes are particularly pervasive. Chestnuts and apples are all well and good, but U.S. autumns circle around the pumpkin: pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin ice cream (dairy and vegan), pumpkin spice cookies and flan, and everything else, pumpkins grinning on the porch…
If pumpkins are the making of North American fall, then what are other nations’ pumpkins? Like the U.S., Japan has numerous autumn fruits and vegetables, and even fish. Some will be familiar to Westerners, although you have to get behind the Japanese names. Satoimo is taro root. Kuri are Japanese chestnuts, Satsumaimo isn’t an orange, but a sweet potato, which appears in sweet and savory dishes, and in street side carts, where yaki-imo (baked sweet potatoes) are sold. Kabocha is—you guessed it—pumpkin. Kaki are persimmons, and they’re pervasive.
In Germany, stuffed cabbage, sauerkraut, and sausages counter the cooling air. In Austria, hot pasta dishes appear, often thick with cheese. Chestnuts show up, on their own and in cakes. The Portuguese indulge in fish and game, alongside squash and root vegetables, and enjoy hot galão (Portugal’s answer to cappuccino) with their pastéis de natas.
Game features strongly in the French autumn, as do red meats. Think of wild boar and mushrooms in red wine, venison stew, and boeuf bourgignon. Grapes stay in season through October, and summer vegetables are lingering on. Autumn’s most present in the orchard. Apples and pears are reaching their peaks. The scent of fresh-pressed cider is everywhere.
Australia’s springtime starts when March arrives and exists with the departure of May. Australia is huge; there are six climate zones. The U.S. has different seasonal patterns, but the Australian continent has an interesting division: four seasons in the temperate zone, and a wet/dry pattern to the north. There are 170 varieties of apple, and Australians know how to enjoy that part of their heritage. Root vegetables are in abundance, in the garden and on the plate. Crab is featured on many autumn menus.
In Japan, drying persimmons is a natural way to preserve color and flavor. It’s as easy as hanging ornaments: peel and string persimmons and suspend them wherever you have space. The technique dates back to the 17th century, if not earlier. Their bright orange color makes persimmons a cheery sight while drying. Get the recipe.
Combine persimmons and sweet potatoes for a creamy soup that showcases autumn’s rich flavors and crisp-leaf colors. If ginger’s your delight, then a few pieces of candied ginger make a festive garnish for this smooth, blended soup. Get the recipe.
Break out your best bundt pan for this persimmon cake. Applesauce confers a wholesome sweetness, while raisins and almonds add a pleasing texture. Get the recipe.
Choose your favorite apple, sweet or tart or floral. That flavor will be a keynote here; two apples go into the making of this French cake. Warmth comes from vanilla, eggs, butter, and several tablespoons of dark rum. Get the recipe.
Call it a galette. Call it a Tarte de Pommes a la Normande. Call it whatever you will, but don’t miss this crisp-edged ode to autumn. Galettes are forgiving. They can be as rough or elegant as you like, and be impeccable tarts. With a drizzle of salted caramel, this galette is a step away from tradition. Get the recipe.
Cross hemispheres with this Australian caramelized Fuji and Calvados ice cream. It gets savory notes from pounded coriander seeds and fresh bay leaves. Australians work in metric, so you’ll need a converter. You’ll also need rapadura, a whole cane sugar. Get the recipe.
Vegans can join Australia’s crab revelry with this recipe for vegan crab cake. Don’t over-process the chickpeas and hearts of palm; they’re what gives the cakes a crab-like texture. The accompanying aioli is easy, with jarred roasted red peppers, fresh dill, and red wine vinegar. Get the recipe.
Put an Eastern spin on Maryland crab cakes with horseradish and Sriracha remoulade. Don’t limit these to dinner; served with sunnyside-up eggs, they make a magnificent breakfast. Get the recipe.
Carolina crab stew is rich as an untouched diamond mine, with half-and-half (or cream, if you’re indulgent), butter, and milk. With red bell pepper and yellow onion, you could claim that it’s a carrier for your daily veg. Take advantage of opportunity, and use the last of a bottle of sherry or dry white wine. Waste not; dine very well indeed. Get the recipe.
Australians have a deep appreciation for Japanese food. This recipe brings together the best of the West and East, turning coconut, two kinds of persimmon (although you can get away with any, as long as they’re ripe), and whole wheat flour into muffins that are not too sweet. Get the recipe.
Use up your excess all-American pumpkin Portuguese style. Dolce de Abórara, a classic jam, has only three ingredients: pumpkin, sugar, and cinnamon. Although it makes an excellent gift, odds are in favor of you eating it all (over ice cream, on toast, marbling cheesecake, topping fresh cheese) before you have a chance to give a jar away. Get the recipe.