The word ‘fresh’ is hard to define strangely and not every food needs to be fresh to be good. But there are some rare experiences of freshness that will keep you on track.
To celebrate spring in Rome, they sometimes eat a vegetable stew called Vignarola. Like the summer succulents of the American South or the ratatouille of France, Vignarola has a vegetable stew that is freshly brightened in its ideal form. It is made from artichokes, small fresh fava beans and fresh crusted peas, all combined with spring onions and white wine and finally added fresh mint. Vignarola is a delicious blend of greens and everything new. The new season may have begun after the last winter hunger strike. But in an age when frozen peas are available year-round, the dish’s glowing spring freshness doesn’t make much sense anymore.
The big miracle of our modern diet is to provide you with spring freshness all year round किंवा or at least in its estimation. We can buy juicy fragrant herbs and autumn spring chickens in the winter room. When I find nostalgia for food in the past, I remember how difficult it would be to live half a year on a little but salty pork, bread and molasses (as described in Laura Ingles Wilder’s book for children). Before the modern methods of refrigeration and farming, even butter and eggs were seasonal food. Nineteenth-century American cookbooks contained incomparable recipes for keeping eggs “completely fine” by coating them with a thick layer of grease or dipping them in salt water. Anyway, at least they didn’t go down without explaining themselves first. When fresh eggs are available all year round.
On the other hand, in your freshman world, how often do you really taste something fresh? When you look closely, a lot of supermarket products are not as fresh as they seem. I recently met a British farmer who produces salad greens. He told me that there is a big difference between a one day old and a three day old leaf and after five days its taste is very low, but the leaves will still look green and shiny, so the average buyer will be better. No one is wise. The same goes for most of the food you buy. The label says “fresh” but what it means is close to “not rotten”.
Our entire food supply is based on the idea of ”keeping things fresh” and “keeping things fresh.” But keeping things fresh is a kind of paradox or deception, because something can be truly fresh only when it is out of the ground or just cooked. The “fresh” food and beverages in our supermarkets have gone on a surprisingly long journey in the global cold before they reach us. One point is the “fresh” orange juice. According to Alyssa Hamilton’s 2010 book, Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice, the “fresh” orange juice advertised as “not-from-concentrate” can stay in cold storage tanks for up to a year. It is packed and shipped to the store. Take the whole orange, cut it in half and squeeze its bright juice straight into the glass, like Zest’s perfume fills the air.
The word “fresh” is oddly difficult to define, which is one of the themes of 2009’s excellent book, “Fresh: A Perishable History,” by Suzanne Freiburg. As consumers, we constantly ask ourselves if things are fresh enough. We sneeze before pouring a bottle of milk over our cereal; We examine the fish with suspicious eyes before buying it. But Mrs. Freiberg noted that US food law is more ambiguous than you might expect on the question of freshness. Although most refrigerated foods are weeks old, they can be labeled as “fresh” and the fruit can be “fresh” even after being irradiated or waxed. In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration convened a meeting in Chicago to discuss the meaning of the word “fresh,” and to decide whether there should be more honest terms to describe some of the “fresh” foods actually processed. Should their name be changed to “Fresh”? The Florida lobbyist of the American Fresh Juice Council argued that it was futile to try to reduce the word. “Freshness is a condition.”
I sometimes wonder if the desire for freshness, paradoxically, is part of the allure of processed food, with a variety of packaging intended for sealing and opening. The squeak of a newly opened bag of chips, the jerking of a soda when leaving a tab, the big revelation of peeling foil on a tub of sugar curd सर्व it all seemed like a new beginning, no matter what was inside. The packet is not very fresh.
It may be impossible to measure true freshness in food, but you know it when you taste it. The sweet snap of the green beans selected that day or the taste of walnuts at the beginning of the season comes directly from the shell. A few years ago, early in the summer, a friend gave me a simple dish of boiled potatoes that was so fresh and waxy that every potato I ever ate seemed to stick in my memory. It was like the moment I tasted fresh sushi for the first time: I had no idea that rice grains could have such a warm texture, sticky and at the same time different.
Not every food needs to be fresh to be good. With Vignaro aside, the frozen pea is hard to beat. I also love pickled lemons and canned tomatoes and fragrant aged cheese. Canned peaches are a low-quality item, and dried apricots are often tastier than fresh ones.
But there are rare times when when you taste something fresh, it stops you in your tracks. For me, asparagus is mostly a food item, a vegetable that I try to buy in bundles from the market since I read that green spears start losing their sugar within a day after harvest. Slightly less fresh asparagus is still a treat, of course. But there’s really something about the fresh spear, trimmed from its stiff stalk and just steamed or roasted and dipped in a Dutchized sauce, which tastes as fresh as it gets. It’s as if you’re eating spring.