Spring into action

Categories: Reflections and opinions

Ahead of his upcoming cookery demonstration, Tim Maddams talks about the joys of spring in the kitchen

Spring. Here we go again. Every year I promise myself I’ll take my time, enjoy the ride, take in the scenery. Every year I fail. Every single time it gets me, right in my very soul, like a great country song or a quiet smile from my daughter; spring takes my breath away and with it, I get carried away. Off I go on a mad dash: living it, feeling it. Cooking it. It’s a very honest response, and denotes my almost complete lack of self-control. I don’t care, I’m on a roll and I won’t be stopping for a while.

But is it really spring that gets me? Certainly it’s the most obvious culprit, the load stone of the year. It’s also a veil, though, to be torn aside to see the real picture. It’s the changing of the seasons that I dig—the way they come together like endless cogs, interwoven, seemingly points in time when really, they are more fluid, ever-changing, with the given exception of the deep breath-in of the real winter. The calm before the storm.

I look forward as much to the first chanterelles as the first wild garlic, and though it will be late summer/early autumn, it’s the same buzz. But by then, of course, I’ve got used to it again.

Jumble of kitchen and brain
Rendered down further, this feeling I’m addicted to is the next fresh thing to make its way on to the seasonal stage and directly onto my table, via the jumble of kitchen and brain, life and schedule, the results often far from perfect, but the satisfaction of trying a pure joy.

In the rush of always looking for the new ingredient and working out ways to use them differently, occasionally I find a new gem—a rare treat, as yet untried by me. I am sure I am not reinventing the wheel, but, even if something already exists, it’s great to make it your own way; to get to know it and work out why it ticks.

And that's where I am these days: I love trying new things, but I’m also comfortable with some core dishes that always make an appearance on the table in early spring. These are favourites, stalwarts, tried and tested, failsafe.

Rising of the sap
Maybe what gets me so hot under the collar in the spring is the vibrancy of the lengthening days, which brings with it a rising of the sap—but I think it’s the understanding I have in my kitchen now, that it’s cool to lose your cool. It’s fine to put wild garlic in everything for now, because in six weeks it will all be gone and by then, I’ll be going bananas for the asparagus anyway.

Spring food is about a feeling. It’s hard to capture in a recipe, because it’s sometimes the cool breeze blowing through the finally opened kitchen window that really makes it special. Dive on in: the water’s cold but by god it feels good.

Join Tim for tips, tastings and recipes on Thursday 30th March in the Market Hall, 12:30-2pm