Here in New York City, strawberries arriving at the farmers market signal the arrival of summer and all the glorious fresh fruit waiting just around the corner. The simplest and often tastiest way to enjoy them is to pluck the stems from the top, and pop them in your mouth. Every now and then, I get fooled by a batch of berries that smell intoxicatingly sweet, only to bite into them and find my taste buds crestfallen. When that happens, there are a few things you can do to coax some flavor from your berries — jam and pie are usually at the top of my list. A more hands-off approach is roasting them. The oven does most of the work. The sauce can then be used as syrup for pancakes or a topping for sundaes, stirred into some plain yogurt for an inexpensive and healthier fruit-flavored version, or my other favorite — stirred into some sparkling water or seltzer for a summer spritzer.
I went to the farmers’ market to get strawberries. I thought I might have missed their short season, but they were in fact there. And then, as if I were somewhere I might never visit again, I suddenly needed everything else there, too.
I hadn’t thought of tea radishes or pink or icicle radishes either — or purple, yellow or white spring onions, carrots, herbs, peonies, tiny, odd lettuces — or shell peas. I didn’t need snap peas, but there they were, tight in their skins, like a bin full of miniature blimps. I wanted to see them again, so I took a picture. The farmer said I could even taste one. Almost involuntarily, I found myself unfurling a bag from the roll and stuffing some in.
The less common the vegetables were, the more I suddenly needed them. And now that I already had to carry a bag, there wasn’t much reason not to quench my drought of fresh chamomile flowers, or to fill the now obvious garlic-scape chasm in my life. I pressured a nearby stranger who claimed not to know what to do with radishes to drag them through butter and dab them in salt, and later saw her headed to the register with three bunches.