December’s Seasonal Produce

December has arrived – the last month of autumn – and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can be sad, or you can take advantage of the opportunities it presents. At least in the kitchen! In our arsenal: feijoa, with its seasonal peak the first to third week of the month, invigorating and ever young Beaujolais Nouveau, ripe pomegranates, chestnuts, gaining more and more popularity and so on and so forth…

On the third Thursday in December, Beaujolais Nouveau is launched. Only 30 years ago this day was revered as a holiday only in France, now it is celebrated in Russia as well. It is necessary to know that “Beaujolais Nouveau” is useless and even harmful, as in due course it becomes worse and worse. Therefore it is necessary to drink it before the New Year (and in honour – until the middle of December). You can serve it with any kind of food, preferably meat and giblets, but not especially sophisticated ones. Don’t look for a wealth of flavours in the Beaujolais Nouveau, just chill it down to 12-14ºC and get on with your day.

You might think that December is the season for rich and very rich people. It is – though there is an outlet for the budget conscious as well: chestnuts, pomegranates and quinces.

Walk into an Azerbaijani market in December and come to a stall with a huge lacquered pile of chestnuts. Make a cross-shaped incision on the top of each chestnut, put it on a baking tray and pop it in the oven preheated to 180ºC for 15 minutes. Delicious, quick and original!

Another December staple is the pomegranate. They are available all year round but in December you have the chance to try pomegranates grown in Central Asia or the Caucasus. Do they taste any better? No. But not worse than those grown in distant southern countries. And they have more vitamins – fresh – in them.

Quinces look a lot like apples. But it is prepared in a slightly different way. The main difference is its crazy, very subtle and natural flavor. There are many dishes that are based on quince. And if you bake them with honey and butter, you get the world’s tastiest cure for bronchitis, pneumonia and any cough in general (except for a smoker’s cough, of course).

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