Spring bloom and the dance of the water plants

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child who knows poems by heart.” —Rilke

On this, the vernal equinox, we think flowers and adorable baby animals hopping and bumbling about, but one of the poems our planet knows by heart has to do with some much, much smaller things. These aquatic unsung heroes of spring are so vital to life as we know it that they deserve a place next to dyed eggs in Easter baskets around the world as icons of spring. They’re responsible for producing fifty percent of the oxygen in our atmosphere. They’re the foundation of the largest food chain on Earth and a superfood. They’re called phytoplankton, and they’re really making a splash in culinary circles.

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Lobsters: Kings of crustacea

Like love, the tides, flowers, and so many other of life’s delights, lobsters have a season. Living in a land-locked state as we are, thoughts of summer don’t necessarily involve the bounty of the sea, but in Maine, the state from which our humble Chef Gilbert hails, the start of summer launches with it one of the most abundant harvests the world over.

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Morels: Portrait of a fungus

Described as smoky and mouth-watering, complex, smelling of fresh soil and raw milk, earthy, nutty, meaty, buttery, and decadent, the morel has been used in cooking since time immemorial. This mushroom is as much a sign of spring as robins, flowers, and young lovers. The ancients related morels to the cycles of the moon, using them to predict flushes of the mushroom, when wild bumper crops seemed to spring up from nothing overnight. Read more

Asparagus: Eat like an emperor

Few things bridge the millennia like sensory experience, and arguably nothing provides a fuller feast for the senses than food. The cacophony of the kitchen; the bouquet of fresh ingredients, of open flame and of hard work; the spectacle as food wends from field to fork; the symphonic denouement that is that first superlative bite—such an evocative experience spans the ages. We may never know exactly the smell of Rome’s streets in spring, Read more

Day boat scallops: The bounty of the sea

Like all of the best ingredients, scallops have a history steeped in legend. These marine bivalves have for millennia been symbols of fertility and the divine feminine—the shell protective and nurturing, the interior a radiant, delicate life force. The Roman goddess of love and fertility herself, Venus, is oft carried in a scallop shell while surrounded by her signature cherubs. The word scallop Read more

Magic mushrooms: A look at the allure of truffles

In the preface to his La Physiologie du Goût (The Physiology of Taste), published in 1825, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said that “whosoever says truffle, utters a grand word, which awakens erotic and gastronomic ideas.” Alexandre Dumas, writer of the iconic The Three Musketeers, once said of these mycological darlings, “They can, on certain occasions, make women more tender and men more lovable.” Read more