What was in season 146 years ago? Here’s Mrs Beeton’s list of Things in Season in April (each food links to a search of food bloggers’ thoughts and recipes).
- Red mullet
- Gray mullet
- Young onions
- Small salad
- Sea kale
- Various herbs
I started to wonder how our ideas the seasons have changed over time, after drawing up my seasonal food cloud for April and getting thinking about the meaning of seasonality. A quick trawl through some old cookery books revealed the inevitable Mrs Beeton placing the greatest importance in the concept -
To be acquainted with the periods when things are in season, is one of the most essential pieces of knowledge which enter into the “Art of Cookery”.
She goes on to list the TIMES WHEN THINGS ARE IN SEASON, comprehensively listing the food in season each month.
Mrs Beeton’s take on seasonality is illuminating, not just of her time but also for our own. Hers was a time of more restricted seasons – there was less international trade in food, especially fresh food, though she includes a number of European foods, particularly fruits like “French and Spanish plums”. Growing seasons were similarly restricted, with strawberries not making their appearance till May, though April sees “forced cherries, etc for tarts”.
Essentially, it seems to me that Mrs Beeton’s things in season mostly fit our modern notion of the natural or real seasons – British strawberries may now be available in December or March, but they’re not really in season then, are they?