Eat seasonally. Eat locally.
While it is wonderful that developed nations are rediscovering the notion of eating in season and eating locally produced food, the reality is that most of the world eats this way by necessity. Food out of season and food that is imported is generally prohibitively expensive. And though I can afford to pay the higher price, wherever I go, I eat what is in season and abundant. There are two good reasons for this: the food is cheaper and tastier.
It's not always easy though.
When I was in southeast Asia, this meant eating no apples, grapes, or leeks. In Istanbul, it meant buying no soymilk. Everywhere
Photo courtesy of Nathan Edgerton
I've been it has meant no pecans. And here in Bulgaria in mid-winter, it means I am becoming very conversant with cabbage.
I can list the varieties of fruit and veg available in the Gotse Delchev, Bulgaria market on my hands. Cabbage (red and green), carrots, leeks (rapidly fading), onions, potatoes, apples, oranges, beet root, pumpkins and kiwis. If I see anything else when I go into the town on market day I am surprised by the abundance!
Luckily, cabbage is a versatile vegetable. Lately, I've been eating it in sauerkraut, stuffed with rice, sauteed with rosemary and red wine, curried with black mustard seeds and coriander, smothered with lutinitsa (a tomato and pepper spread), and my favorite, eaten raw. I've been eating a variation of cabbage salad just about every day for lunch. With a rotating cast of shredded carrots, beets, raw pumpkin, oranges, onions, and garlic, the salad has stayed interesting for now. Talk to me in a few weeks, though!
The real advantage of eating this way is that it keeps me in the moment, in the present, in my current country. Instead of missing and thinking about food I ate in another part of the world, food that is difficult to find where I am now, I focus on the delicious specialties of the region I am in. So while it would be tempting for me to reminisce about mangoes, lemongrass, and dragonfruit, I am delighted to focus instead on the culinary wonders of Bulgarian winters—jams, pickles, oranges, leeks, sunflower seeds, pumkpin banitsa, and, of course, cabbage.