For a greengrocer, late summer and early autumn is the most wonderful time of the year. The bounty of the county is endless – from fresh figs and tasty tomatoes to brilliant blackberries and amazing apples, the shelves are groaning with vibrant colour and freshness.
My own greengrocers, Giddens & Thompson in Earsham Street, Bungay, opened its doors in May 2014 and we spent those first months enjoying the asparagus and wild garlic, before moving into summer – the strawberries and raspberries – to where we are now. We live by the seasons in our job, the same as chefs and other producers do, and I must confess, I do get excited when it is time for the new season potatoes or tomatoes to come in. They always taste amazing, and often cooking the simple way is the best.
For me, tomatoes are the absolute highlight of August. I love them! And there is so much variety. We are lucky that we have so many growers right on our doorstep and at this time of year, the shop is full of colour and delights. And that includes the tomatoes – from the vine cherry and plum, to the big beefy tomatoes that go so well with the courgettes and aubergines. From big Middle Eastern flavours to delicate Mediterranean ones, this seasonal produce lends itself well to any style of cooking. I love to enjoy them sliced on a plate, with some herbs and seasoning, drizzled with oil, and served with warm gluten-free bread. Unadulterated pleasure at its best!
Of course, the way that people shop has changed. We are very lucky at Giddens & Thompson to have a loyal customer base, and we have worked hard to support them through the height of lockdown. Happily, our little store is now open, and we have all the COVID-19 guidelines in place – screens to protect customers and staff, and only one customer in the shop at any one time.
One thing I have noticed these last months is that people seem to be buying more fruit and vegetables than ever. And I am heartened to see that people are adding more variety to their diets through the produce that they choose. I think that maybe the time spent in lockdown has encouraged people to think outside their normal food choices, and I hope that this adventurous side continues!