Summer ~ the Fire Element
Of course summer is the associated with the fire element. Look no further than a fiery red strawberry picked straight from the vine. Summer, like fire, is about the yang, the expansion, evidenced easily while walking down the aisles of your local farmer's market. Fruits and vegetables, expanding in size, shape and color, represent the best of summer.
Flavors of Summer – Bitter, Sweet, Hot (and don't forget the pungent)
Summer is the time to focus on the Bitter (fire), the Sweet (earth) and a little of the spicy hot.
Bitter is yin, cooling, descending and contracting, reducing excesses of heat, inflammation and infections. For the Heart, bitter clears heat and removes damp and mucus in the arteries which helps lower blood pressure. Bitter foods include dandelion, chamomile, alfalfa, bitter melon, lettuce and rye. Asparagus, lettuce and papaya are bitter and sweet.
Sweet is the yang, as it moves up and out, building and strengthening the spleen and ultimately the entire body. Healthy sweet foods provide energy yet still have a slowing and relaxing effect on the body and mind. Sweet summer foods include beets, sweet potatoes, yams, and seasonal fruits and berries.
Carry On With The Pungent and Bring on the Spice
Seed spices (fennel, dill, anise, caraway), black pepper, oregano, plus turmeric and rosemary are all moderately pungent. Examples of common pungent foods include horseradish, radish and its sprouts, mustard greens, and all allium family members (chive, leek, onion, garlic, scallion, shallot).
As we delve into the heat of summer the hottest spices such as cayenne, jalapeno, and habanero can be used in conjunction with the pungent spices listed above. These hot spices help take the heat off the body by first increasing warmth and then bringing body heat up to the surface.
Look for coming articles and posts here at Radical Feasts with recipes featuring these summer flavors. Or take one of our up-coming Seasonal Eats Seasonal Harmony classes to get the hands-on summer cooking experience. Enjoy the summer!