Sometimes when you wake up in the morning, you just can’t figure out why you have no energy. You feel tired and you ask yourself what you could do to have a great day. It doesn’t happen to me very often, but today is a day like that!
So, instead of heading to work straight away, I decided to do something I like; I went to a traditional market that I particularly love, Xiaoguan shichang, one of my favorite markets. Firstly, I love it because it is situated in the center of the very lively park of Sanyuanli, often frequented by retired people.
Secondly since it is lively, the fruit and veggie displays all look so beautiful and the products are fresh. The diversity and the quality of products cannot be compared to the ones you find in local supermarkets or at shops carrying all sorts of imported goods. Once I have walked around the market, I often go to the park nearby and listen to hundreds of retirees sing as one choir. These simple things in life remind me to take more time to go for morning outings!
During my walk, I talk to shopkeepers who love to tell me all about their products. This morning, I decided to get tomatoes. The classical tomato is a vegetable (or rather a fruit) that I rarely buy in China, as it is often tasteless. I usually advise my students to choose baby tomatoes. However, I was very surprised to discover that the season for nice and tasty tomatoes has arrived. I shall finally be able to cook delicious tomato mozzarella salads or Andalusian gazpachos! They are juicy and mainly sweet and tasty. Such a treat!
Do you know why Chinese people rarely cook tomatoes? Simply, it is an unfamiliar vegetable to them. This crop was imported by Italians. It explains its name in Chinese番茄 (fan1qie2) – the foreign eggplant.
If you do not find nice 番茄, you can choose baby tomatoes. But be careful, there are 2 prices for them, two varieties, and two qualities. The very red ones, similar to our baby tomatoes are cheaper but their skin is thick and their taste slightly acid. However, if you are looking for yummy tomatoes, you will find what you need with baby tomatoes not as red as the other ones but with a thinner skin and the most wonderful taste.
Tomatoes are going to be a must for the summer, but they are not the only seasonal product. Fresh garlic will also be the master on displays. With yummy tomatoes, garlic, and peppers, I can give you the authentic Andalusian gazpacho recipe a Spanish friend taught me twenty years ago.
In terms of fruit, you will have a large selection. The season for strawberries, pineapple, and mangoes is nearly over, but vendors display litchis, cherries and watermelons in large quantities. For cherries, big ones that come from Beijing are plentiful, of course, while the ones from Shandong are not as expensive but just as nice. As for peaches, I advise you to wait for a few weeks.
As I promised, here is the recipe for Andalusian gazpacho, which you can eat with little bread crouton or iberico slices of ham.
8 middle sized tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
½ green pepper
1 dried bread crust
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 pinch of salt and pepper
Wash the vegetables. Peel tomatoes, cucumber, and garlic. Take out the seeds of the pepper. Put the bread into a bowl with water to soften it. Cut the tomatoes, cucumber and green pepper into cubes. Blend the vegetables, garlic, and bread until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and 1 tbsp olive oil. Pour the soup into a large salad bowl and place it in the refrigerator for one hour. You can add 2 ice cubes to serve it fresh. Serve the gaspacho with fried bread crust and Spanish ham !
Olivia is from South of France and is a food lover with an eye for nutrition. When she arrived in China she felt the need to iron out everyday kitchen problems so decided to teach her wonderful Ayi about balanced meals by introducing her to Western food culture. “Cuisine mei wenti” Academy was born out of this need. Later in 2014, as she became a busy mum, she realized how cooking varied food for her little girl was important. This is how she came up with Babyfood Program.
Follow her on wechat: guinebaultolivia, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up for her newsletter on www.cuisinemeiwenti.com/blog, where this article originally appeared. Also take note, her online classes start in September!
Photos: Courtesy of Olivia Guinebault