Illustration: Ellen Blanc

Potatoes have long been associated with comfort, a starchy hug that appears alongside stews, baked whole and piled high with beans and cheese or roasted underneath the Sunday chicken. Even in summer, we lean into the gentle solace that they bring, enjoying them deep-fried with battered fish at the seaside, boiled and tossed in butter to go with barbecued meats or as gloriously oily, salty crisps on holiday. Whatever mood you’re in, whatever the weather is doing, a potato is never bad. In fact, a potato is always good.

I had a screw drilled into my jaw as part of…

Illustration: Ellen Blanc

My first proper experience with asparagus came in the mid-2000s, when I took it upon myself to throw a dinner party for my 16th birthday. I know: it’s either deeply tragic or deeply precocious, but can we pretend for a moment that it was vaguely endearing? I’d been watching a lot of Come Dine With Me after it debuted in 2005, and became weirdly obsessed with the idea of entertaining — even begging my mum to take me to Ikea so we could buy a set of 30p glass plates and some cheap martini glasses.

At the time, asparagus was…

Illustration: Ellen Blanc

Like me, I imagine many Brits will have tasted their first artichoke on top of a pizza — I’m pretty certain my earliest hit was from Pizza Express sometime in the 2000s, having just polished off a plate of doughballs. After that sweet first taste, I remember wondering why artichokes weren’t everywhere and on everything. They tasted so rich for a vegetable, almost creamy, meaning I couldn’t work out why they didn’t share the same common status of the peas and carrots on my dinner plate.

Of course, it’s only when you see an uncooked globe artichoke (not to be…

Illustration: Ellen Blanc

“I’m thinking purple sprouting broccoli for the next VTT btw,” I messaged my sister, who’s been illustrating each Veg to Table post to bring it to life — and wonderfully so, I might add.

That breezy, casual tone, however, was soon replaced by mild panic as the days went by without a single stem of the bloody stuff in sight. I couldn’t find any purple sprouting anywhere — ANYWHERE — meaning by the time she’d finished her end of the bargain, I was still standing in my kitchen, empty-handed and exasperated.

The pandemic has rendered us all incapable of coping…

Illustration: Ellen Blanc

I used to know that warmer times were coming when a stand of blood oranges would appear outside McCall’s, the fruit and veg shop in Manchester that was round the corner from my old flat. They’d only be there for a couple of months to bridge the gap between late winter and early spring, meaning I’d always feel the need to seize the chance — grabbing three for £1 before even thinking what I might do with them.

While their season is short, it somehow feels like one of the most important windows in the fruit and veg calendar, as…

Celeriac will always remind me of home, though not because I have fond memories of tucking into platefuls of the stuff as a child — on the contrary, as my dad will no doubt tell you. He’s eager to explain to anyone who will listen that he only discovered celeriac in his later years after spotting one at the veg shop looking sorry for itself, and now simply can’t get enough. By extension, the rest of us appear to have joined the cult.

“I’ve wasted so many years!” he’ll exclaim with actual, genuine horror. I love it.

Supposedly making up…

Illustration: Ellen Blanc

The premise of seasonal eating is hardly anything new, but in a period where our sense of time has been thrown completely off-kilter, I’m wondering if it can help me regain some structure to my weeks and months — a way to push forward through the year when our usual milestones have grown meaningless.

Like many people, I’ve found myself wishing entire seasons away, looking forward to spring in the naïve hope that lockdown will lift, only to be told it could now be summer, if we’re lucky. …

The pleasure of eating is a trope that’s been fed to us for as long as anyone will remember, with early memories of well-meaning parents closing in on us with a spoon — their enthusiastic cooing and encouraging smiles attempting to impart a fondness for food that will help us sup it up without fuss.

Deep down, of course, we know that our relationship with eating is a complex one, for while one day we can gorge with unbridled happiness on bowls of pasta or chip away at a chocolate cake until there are only crumbs, other times we feel…

Jess Hardiman

Journalist currently working at LADbible, with previous experience at Time Out, The Skinny and others.

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