By Aaron Gilbreath
Spring – who needs it? In our industrial era, every day is spring. Spring rolls. Spring greens. Spring onions. Temperature controlled environments. Like Kurt Cobain said, “Nature is a whore.” Just kidding. Those peaches we get from Chile in winter are horrible. Have you had them? They’re scented rocks. I don’t care if I sound like a hippie: there is no replacing the native rhythms of Mother Earth. We need seasons. Seasons make food possible, like fall chestnuts and winter pears. And as much as I appreciate sunny central California for producing berries year-round, I’m looking forward to some fresh spring nettles for tea, rhubarb for pie, and summer melons.
In the meantime, think of all those imposters that are spring in name alone. A few visible offenders:
Spring onions – What are these? They used to be pungent shoots that came up through the soil when specific meteorological conditions rang alarms on their genetic clock. Now they’re a euphemism for scallions. You can get imported bundles of them for less than a dollar year-round.
Spring rolls – Rolled, yes, but not only in spring. The illusion is especially seductive during the dark middle of our long winters. The truth – meaning Wikipedia – is that “In Vietnam spring rolls, sometimes called summer rolls, is a Vietnamese delicacy known as gỏi cuốn. Depending on region, spring rolls were made differently. Spring rolls refer to the freshness of the spring season with all the fresh ingredients, therefore frying takes away that feeling.” See? Summer rolls. What a fraud, like me lazily pasting aggregated text into this post.
Field greens – Not always grown in a field. Same with spring greens. I eat them in December all the time.
“Spring breeze” scented laundry detergent – Maybe this smells like spring if you grew up on a planet made of fabric softener, but where I come from, it smells more like the cosmetic aisle at CVS, as well as the headache I get from trips to certain department stores.
Really though, the foods I crave aren’t ones that are ever in or out of season. I’m a product of refrigeration, globalization and grand-scale delusion, and I’m poorer for it. But I still eat well, because as much I love my warm weather fruits and veggies, the things I crave I can get year-round: phō, bean burritos, tea, chocolate, nakji bokum and doenjang jigae. Though I have to admit: even buried beneath jalapeños and onions, the hot house tomatoes in winter pico de gayo are usually godawful.
Aaron Gilbreath lives in Portland and online here. He’s written essays for Tin House, The Threepenny Review, Yeti and Paris Review, and occasionally writes about books for the Portland Mercury.