have you heard of bitter melon? bitter melon used to be a little bit exotic vegetable but is pretty popular for japanese summer cooking these days. we japanese call this ゴーヤ goya, although there are several names of this cucumber’s cousin. it is unbelievably bitter. so why do we eat this? because, bitter melon contains superb nutrients. another reason for its growing popularity does not come from a culinary motivation, but from a literally green action. bitter melon vines shade your rooms from the sun as they grow when planted by the windows.
in theory, you can go with more air conditioning switched off and less carbon dioxide emission even a little. it does work. besides, it’s fun to eat them. unfortunately, my balcony is not suitable to have bitter melons. instead, i check on how bitter melons grow in the cottage garden during my routine walk in the park. the staff members in the park office seem to have already harvested lots of crops this summer. i am a bit jealous of them, but the pergola with shinny shoots and yellow blossoms of bitter melon simply provides me a space for a relaxing moment.
at any rate, i love vegetables and am happy that summer vegetables are no longer only summer produce so that we can eat them all year around. however, i don’t want to lose the sense of “what in season”, you know. two weeks ago, i received a food parcel from chiharu’s mother (she is my son’s girlfriend). her retired father grows various vegetables, tea and rice and her mother sends me some fresh crops from time to time. this time, there were aubergines, okras, cherry tomatoes, green peppers and corns in the box. they were beautiful to look at. the tastes were distinguishable. in fact, i’d never had such sweet corns before.
i usually cook aubergine with olive oil but i thought it’d be nice to grill it for a change, since the taste of the material could be drawn out by the simplest way of cooking. grilled aubergine is one of traditional japanese summer cuisine that i forgot for some time somehow. i grilled green peppers, too. how did i have them? with ground ginger and soy source. i added some finely chopped basil to be my style, though. too simple? but i believe that simple cooking can cultivate your taste for subtle flavours. i appreciate the bountiful season.