I live in Texas but have lived many other places. Some of the more unusual vegetables, fruits, berries, etc. I have grown to love in other places just do not show up much here unless offered at ridiculous prices in high end stores like Central Market. This topic came into being prompted by the discussion of fiddleheads.
These include salsifies, cardoons, gooseberries, morels, chestnuts, sun chokes, and Satsumas. I love them all. I also observe that some that are not quite as rare but are not common here are celeriac, baby artichokes, and. rhubarb.
Any similar experiences out there? BTW I can find canned salsifies but have not had fresh ones since West Virginia.
I’ve not had some on your list - salsifies, cardoons, sun chokes, Satsumas…we have plentiful fiddleheads here in the spring but I’ve never been interested. Rhubarb is abundant where I live in the northeast. I grew up eating lots of gooseberries in the midwest, but they are not common where I live now. I don’t crave them. I do get excited when I find fresh yellow wax beans and romanesco - those are extremely hard to come by and I love them. We were in our local grocery store chain a few years ago and saw romanesco for sale - it was broken into florets and priced at .99 - we were so excited we put a few handfuls in a bag. The price was .99 per floret not the .99/lb we assumed! We bought it anyway since it had been years since we had enjoyed that.
(John Hartley - a culinary patriot eating & cooking in Northwest England)
I have no significant problem here (although weather conditions both here in the UK and in Spain (from where we import many of our vegetables, etc). But then, I live in an urban area, have a car with several supermarkets within a few minutes drive. The issue is for poor people , who may well be dependent on public transport which means a “big shop” at the supermarket is not practical. They are then dependent on whatever the local convenience store may stock - a lousy selection at sky high prices. When I was young every village would have a greengrocer - mine had three - but supermarkets have killed them off (along with many other independent food traders). So, not just financially poor, but an often poor diet - leads to shorter life expectancy.
I’m in Tokyo for now, and get a kick out of the startling price contrasts.
Muskmelons might cost around $100 or more, six strawberries about $20, and let’s not even enter pyramidal watermelon territory (PWT). But the country is all about gift-giving, and nice presentations … that’s why these ridiculous price tags can exist.
OTOH, shiso, mizuna, and mung bean sprouts are unsurprisingly very cheap. Cabbage, too.
But getting a “salad” mix? Take two small shards of iceberg, throw in two small julienned carrots, add a ginger miso dressing, and sell it for about a $1.20. Save for the occasional goma-ae (sesame dressed-spinach), and bowl of cabbage served with tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet), it’s not really a cuisine for raw vegetables.
Plus, in the city of Kokubunji, by an historic falconry reserve, there are local farmers selling their seasonal goods. Yesterday, I bought some delicious grape tomatoes and blueberries. In the fall, the vendor said look out for figs.
Sour cherries! I’ve been feeling deprived reading about them here on HO. Also fresh Macintosh apples, which I grew up eating.
I believe I have seen most of those quoted in markets of various persuasions around here (Nor Cal near the central valley), perhaps with the exception of morels, but when I go to grocery stores in other parts of the country I become aware of things I don’t see here.
Maybe the variety of mangos, or avocados other than Hass. We have no shortage of satsumas, and in fact there seem to be old trees in most of our yards.
About ten years ago I was in New England and decided to make stuffed jalapeños for friends to try. Since jalapeños are a dime a dozen here in Texas I didn’t pay any attention to price when bagging up. $5.99 per pound at checkout.
I have never, ever seen gooseberries for sale. I had some maybe 45 years ago severe to me in some kind of dessert by a schoolmate; obviously she’d gotten them somewhere local, but that’s it. Other than farmer’s markets, upscale boutique groceries are about it for finds.
This year we ate a total of 4 arctichokes, we usually have them at least once a week during the season. They pretty much missed us (RMW) and the ones I used to grow haven’t been successful at overwintering for years.
If it werent for the risk of getting into serious trouble, we could set up a swap!
I rarely if ever see salsify, cardoons, or sunchokes. Theyre not a big love at my house, so not a big issue. Chestnuts show up sporadically, but never morels or fiddleheads.
We do love celeriac, romanesco, and leeks, so Ill splurge on those from time to time.
Strawberries, blueberries, and citrus are huge commercial crops here, so cheap and plentiful in season. Avocados and mangos are backyard trees, so harvest season means bags of fruit feom friends and neighbors who have more than they can eat. Theres a house in my neighborhood who piles Florida avocados on a table at the end of the driveway with a sign begging people to take some (they’re delicious)
Good peaches, cherries, and apples are hard to come by.
I do not love cardoons, but salsifies and Sun chokes are pretty nice in my experience. As regards gooseberries upthread, I am not a fab of fresh gooseberries, but spiced gooseberry preserves are pretty special.