January: the beginning of the year. A time to reflect on the past twelve months and plan for the months ahead. A time to get ready for the new school year and lunchbox menus. Summertime. Braais, salads and lots of fresh fruit. It’s definitely my favourite month on the foodie calendar, with such a large choice of the juiciest fruits that I love the most. Slices of ice cold watermelon, peeling litchis with their rather perfumed flesh, cherries (one of my weaknesses), and for the fruits I can’t manage to finish, I preserve some in brandy for the months when they’re not available.
Oh, and it’s the month of mangoes of course. Mangoes bring back happy childhood memories of my friends and I sitting in the swimming pool, biting off giant yellow chunks of the stuff, the juice running down our faces and our arms, where nothing else mattered but the gorgeous sweet taste. My mother insisted that we eat the mangoes in the pool. That way, she said, we’d make sure the juice would wash off our mouths to prevent us from getting mango sores, which are a lot worse than they sound.
Thinking back, our huge mango tree grew right next to the swimming pool, so perhaps she planted it there on purpose. Moms are so clever.
Here’s the list of fruit, vegetables and herbs that are in season (and therefore usually quite cheap) right now:
Asparagus, baby corn, baby marrows, brinjals, carrots, celery, cucumber, garlic, green beans, lemon grass, lettuce, mange tout, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes
Bananas, cherries, figs, granadilla, grapes, litchis, loganberries, mango, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, prickly pears, raspberries, spanspek, quinces and watermelons
Basil, bay leaves, chives, dill, fennel, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rocket, rosemary, sage and thyme