Saturday, July 7, 2007


Last night I saw the movie Ratatouille. I wasn't planning to, but then I heard a Talk of the Nation interview with Ruth Reichl in which the movie's food critic character was discussed, and then after that I read this review at Megnut, and my interest was piqued.

Naturally after seeing the movie with its climactic ratatouille-related episode, I had to make myself a dish of . . .


I got almost all the ingredients fresh this morning at the farmers' market:

  • eggplant from the Farm at Red Hill

  • tomatoes from the Farm at Red Hill

  • zucchini from Waterpenny Farm

  • onion from Double H Farm

  • red bell peppers from the farmers' market

  • basil from Radical Roots

  • thyme from Planet Earth Diversified

  • salt and pepper

  • brown rice to serve on top of

The result: not too bad. I haven't been a big fan of ratatouille when I've had it before, but the fresh tomatoes and herbs made the dish.

I loved the fact that I could get every ingredient (short of the salt and pepper, and the rice, which is ancillary) fresh and in season from local farmers. This made me reflect on how nicely attuned traditional recipes are (because in the past they had to be!) to the seasonal and regional availability of produce. Lately I've been eating tortilla espaƱola and gazpacho on a daily basis; I've been making both almost entirely with fresh, local ingredients, apart from a few pantry staples used mainly for seasoning (salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil).

By contrast, this afternoon I plan to try to make a fruit salad recipe from the recent issue of Cook's Illustrated. The recipe calls for both peaches and strawberries, which are not in season at the same time! As it happens, I managed to get a box of "last of the season" strawberries from the Farm at Red Hill, and of course peaches from Critzer's. Before I started trying to eat more local food, I would not have thought twice about a peach-and-strawberry recipe, but now, it looks a little absurd to me.

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