This week we concentrated on raw fruits and vegetables. First, May tested us on our herb knowledge, bringing out examples of both delicate and hardy herbs. Delicate herbs are the ones that have softer leaves and don’t do well with longer cooking times. These include parsley (both curly and Italian), cilantro, mint, basil and dill (my personal favorite).
May told us about how various herbs are used in global cooking. Cilantro is used not only in Latin cuisine, but many Southeast Asian and North African dishes, as well. Did you know that cilantro roots go into curry paste?
Mint, and this means spearmint, is used anywhere from Southeast Asia to India to the Mediterranean. The French love Marjoram, a hardy herb used in the Herb de Provence mixture. They’re also pretty fond of Chervil, which has a lemony, licorice taste and is used with seafood. I, for one, will never try this. Anything licorice is on my “HATE THIS!” list.
Since it is winter, we discussed seasonal fruits and vegetables. Pomegranates are in season and the seeds are terrific in salads. Want to get the seeds out easily? Cut off the top, pry it open with your thumbs, then take the back of a wooden spoon and slam the fruit with it. The seeds will fall out. Persimmons are also in season here in California. I had never really had this fruit, it tastes like a combination of a papaya, pear and something I can’t quite identify. They’re delicious.