March starts on Saturday, and I am looking forward to it with every fibre of my being. Every year I resolve to make peace with February. I focus on the little flowers, the days stretching out with a few minutes more light every morning and evening, the beauty of the stark branches, the joy to be had in a half-term holiday, hot chocolate and open fires, on and on with an increasingly desperate fervour. It doesn’t really work. Frankly I just don’t like February. It is simply one month too many of dark, cold (although not very this year) and wet (very very very wet this year) grimness.
Of course the difference between the last days of February and the first days of March are largely in the head. As I write this the sun is shining, and the flood-water level is dropping. Both school runs and the morning commute are now in daylight. The crocuses are positively basking and the narcissi are seriously considering putting in an appreance, although I doubt we’ll have our own daffodils to cut for Saint David’s Day, the festival of the patron saint of Wales, on March 1st.
One of the (many) things that February has against it is that there is no seasonal food highlight that really belongs to it. We didn’t even get pancake-day in February this year. The game is old, the fish are spawning so they are lean and soggy, and if I see another brassica or dried bean I may be driven to violence. We’re still filling our boots with soups and stews and all the dishes of winter, but it’s all getting a bit dull now, first duck eggs notwithstanding.
March, however, is a joy, even with what veg growers know as the “hungry gap”. We will have mackerel, rhubarb, and purple sprouting broccoli really coming into its own. There are the novelties of nettle soup and sorrel anything. It really begins to feel like spring, and a not-so-young woman’s fancy turns to thoughts of new season’s food.
But somehow I need to make it to Saturday. So I have stocked up on hot-chocolate, and am trying to come up with some meals for this week that will make us smile. The desert-island disk recipe for when I need to feel loved is bird in a brick (click here), so that will come out tonight. The scallops are still stunning at this time of year, and they are on offer at the fishmonger so that will make an appearance, probably with pasta garlic, chilli, brandy and parsley because tomorrow is a big work day so time won’t be on my side, and then it’s March!