The weather in New York City yesterday really made me feel as though Spring had arrived. The balmy wet day gave me hope that I could soon traipse through the upstate New York woods and gather ramp and fiddleheads, a favorite springtime ritual. I am bound and determined to pickle some ramp this year. So yesterday, with the season at our door, I came across some spring greens from another country far from here. They are from a market in Burma, a very simple but beautiful market. I remember that the vivid greens seemed really exotic to me when I came across them in the wet Burmese market. Upon closer inspection, I realized they were not so exotic after all, just gorgeously fresh and seasonal! There was Thai basil, mint, tamarind, baby cucumbers, fiddleheads, kafir lime, coriander and one delicate thin lily pad-like green used in soups apparently, as I was told by the ladies selling the greens. They thought I was really funny as I walked along and picked up this and that. They laughed and smiled as I bought small bunches of greens tied with a little straw thread. When I got to the lily pad green they yelled "SOUP! SOUP!".
The greens in Burma are often grown hydroponically along the waterways and canals. I have never seen such beautiful and intricate gardens. In the humid market the greens are sold in giant piles. The women call out their wares creating a melodic cacophony echoing under the shade of the wet tents.
Whenever I am in a foriegn country, I always seek out a green market. Both the market in Burma and the market in Jaipur India made me want to hole up for a month or two, rent an apartment and do nothing but cook and eat. I am always so eager to try out all those beautiful fruits and vegetables. People the world round are excited by food and the shift of seasons. Spring greens, whether at the greenmarket in Union Square or the market in Burma, excite all of us in the same way. Take this change of seasons to welcome in one seasonal dish that is an old favorite, or better yet, to make a seasonal dish you have never tried!
Though I have lived through many Springs, I am still excited by finding the first wild ramp in the woods, and I can't wait to see what this season unfurls...