I've never seen a purple potato.
Limes, along with pineapple, sweet potatoes, ginger and mangoes are in the 'exotic' section of my supermarket – if anywhere.
I have searched in vain to find such outlandish items as frozen fruit – like berries, or, heaven forbid, frozen orange juice.
Every spring there are boxes of dirt sitting on the floor in the produce section, though, used to transport from the coast, and keep fresh, wonderful, tiny new potatoes – both delicious and expensive.
And in mid-summer you can find the dirtiest carrots imaginable, to prove they are just pulled and sent down from the carrot beds near Nantes – both delicious and expensive.
I'm not sure why the French, at least, where I live, aren't interested in the newest craze. I've been hearing about an herb called 'sumac' – I doubt I'll see it any time soon here.
Some of those 'new' things never do catch on.
If I want sweet corn or rainbow chard I have to have someone from the US send me the seeds so I can plant my own.
It's only been 2 years that one can find butternut squash for sale in the fall – just a few though. I have those seeds sent as well.
It seems that the French, and other Europeans, are far more concerned about getting the very best and the very freshest of local food, rather than trying the exotic.
I made baked beans for a picnic once…. Everyone was fascinated by this typical American food. One or two people actually had a teeny tiny taste.
The locals just don't seem interested in trying the new.
There are plenty of new things for me to try, however.
When I lived in the US I'd never heard of sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), leeks were something I added to soup and endive was occasionally found next to the carrots and celery on a 'Veggie and Dip' platter.
All three are plentiful and widely used here – braised as first courses or vegetables, baked in gratins, or steamed with a cheese or hollandaise sauce.
I may not ever get a purple potato, but those little new potatoes, packed in their own, moist dirt to prove freshness, are a taste of foodie heaven not found elsewhere.
While I wait for their season, here's a last bit of the winter.
The endive is braised until tender, then the stem end hollowed. Fill it
with creamy eggs and finish with a lemony mayonnaise for a late winter
Warm Stuffed Endive Salad
2 Belgian endive
3 tsp olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
2oz (60gr) ham or bacon
1 tbs dried chives
1 tbs Greek or plain yogurt
3 tbs mayonnaise
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp dried chives
1/4 tsp garlic powder
The endive: Rinse endive and remove 2 or 3 outer leaves as needed. Trim the stem end. Cut each endive in half the long way through the stem. Heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat in a nonstick skillet large enough to hold the endive flat, in one layer. Add endive, cut side down, and sauté until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Turn and sauté the other side. Add chicken stock, cover and simmer until the stem end is tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 10 minutes longer. Remove endive to a plate, cut side up. Reserve stock for another use.
With a sharp knife cut a long, shallow, v-shaped wedge from the stem end to about halfway to the tip. Discard cuttings. Set endive aside.
The Eggs: Lightly whisk eggs, chives and yogurt. Heat 1 tsp oil in skillet. Add ham or bacon and sauté until lightly browned (if using bacon, until crisp. Drain excess fat). Reduce heat to low and add eggs. Stir once or twice, remove from heat and allow them to finish cooking off heat, stirring occasionally. They should be very moist when done.
The Mayo: Mix all ingredients for mayonnaise, set aside until needed.
The finish: Arrange the endive on 2 plates. Divide the eggs and spoon onto the hollowed end of the endive, mounding high. Spoon Lemon Mayonnaise on the side and serve.
When I was out with the dogs today, it was as if spring had exploded overnight. Fruit trees, that were bare yesterday, were blooming, the forsythia had tiny bits of yellow and gold showing, the lilacs had green shoots…
You know what that means: green garlic, favas, artichokes, asparagus, and, yes, those lovely new potatoes.
I'm so excited!