I couldn’t help being reminded yesterday of Eliza Doolittle’s song in My Fair Lady ‘The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plains’, when the grocery delivery driver bemoaned shortages of many popular fruit and vegetables. Apparently, the main growing region in Spain recently had a year’s worth of rain in just one day, resulting in huge losses of many different crops. This has led to shelves empty of courgettes for weeks, and is also affecting peppers, aubergines and tomatoes – and may continue for several months.
The growth in popularity for courgetti as a substitute for spaghetti, combined with new year resolutions to eat healthier, means that demand has outstripped current supplies. This raises all sorts of issues such as the global reliance on food imports, and unprecedented weather patterns in recent years.
There isn’t a short-term solution to either of these issues, but we can eat locally and seasonally, so swap your courgetti for my Italian-style cauliflower rice. Or go oriental with Pak Choi, a winter crop and great source of calcium. Roasted Mediterranean vegetables can be substituted for roasted root vegetables – celeriac, turnip, parsnip and swede are all at their best right now. Purple sprouting broccoli is also in season, a rich source of vitamins and minerals.
Still craving the flavours of the Med? Go frozen. Most supermarkets provide a fabulous range of frozen vegetables, prepared and packed at their best.