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Vital Information | Feb 13, 200208:32 AM     25

Dave H. asked me what I have against fresh strawberrys in February, since they are not coming from the still frozen tundra of our soil. Well, I am waging a small and totally ineffective campgaign against out of season fruit and especially shipped in fruit.

I will admitt that some fruit has to come from somewhere else. Ever see a nice key lime offered at your local farmer's market? Citrus fruit, however, travels well, and beside IS seasonal. And no, I will not reach for a California navel in July. The other fruit that I willing exempt is bananas. They are neither local, nor seasonal, but I figure these things are so hardy they used to travel by steamer to market. Now, those peaches available last week in the market, I will happily take a pass.

Once upon a time, we made it through the winter months with boatloads of apples. When they wore out, there was canned or dried. The poor product of certain commercial canners has destroyed the credibility of preserved product. In my fantasy world, there still exists lovely hand made, quality preserved foods lining the shelfs of our markets, say in my mythical Oak Park winter market (where donuts are available ever week!)

Instead, we settle for products shipped in from various alter-climates. The results are hardly worth the effort. Starchy, devoid of the flavor tones that make fruit stand-out, they look the same but taste like nothing. More important, they ruin the whole specialness of nature. Do not strawberrys taste better when they arrive with the impending summer heat. Do not they taste even better when you know that if you do not eat them soon, they will be gone.

So, for the record: pet peeve number 1=lousy state of Chicago Tribune resturant reviews (what the hell was today's cheap eat about); pet peeve number 2=shipped in fruit. Some day, I'll write about my other pet peeve, people who read the newspaper first and leave it folded in the middle.

Rob

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