As T.S. Eliot famously said, "April's here, muthafuckahs!" The Nobel laureate and anti-Semite was right: April's here, bringing rain and kind-of-warm weather and the hope that maybe this will be the year you get your life together and spend the summer completing some indeterminate creative project you've been compiling "notes" on since you moved out of mom's house.
That's not going to happen, so you might as well educate yourself on the bounty of seasonal foods that will show up at farmers markets this spring -- after a winter filled with root vegetables, you can permit yourself the indulgence of a fruit, or maybe even a fresh green salad. Oh, the opulence! You shall surely rot in hell for your delight in worldly pleasures!
Or you'll just eat some tasty, seasonal food and forget your general lack of resolve.
If you ever need definitive proof that there is a just and benevolent god, buy a pineapple and eat it, then shut yourself off from news media and other people for the rest of your life. Magic!
You've probably heard a lot of rumors about pineapple improving the taste of semen, and why dispel rumors now? Bromelain, an extensively studied extract of pineapples, is good for mouse testes at least, and probably has a bunch of other anti-inflammatory benefits. Eat pineapple until the acid burns your soft palate; do it plain, fresh, and raw -- the only other acceptable option is grilling it.
I'll show you fear in a fistful of fiddlehead ferns: Eliot did NOT write anything that good, ever. Plus, there's no need to be afraid! Unless you eat them raw, which you shouldn't do because fiddlehead ferns probably taste like eating a rainforest if you don't cook them properly, and there's the possibility of explosive diarrhea. Just cook 'em.
You have to jump on fiddlehead ferns the second they show up at the farmers market, since their season is incredibly short and some other canvas bag-toting competitor may beat you to them. So, when you see fiddleheads, buy them; steam them and add a little butter, salt, and lemon; eat them. Next week, they'll be no more than a memory of spring's infinite, unfulfilled promise.
If you need an outlet to assert your speciesism, look no further than the soft-shell crab, in season from April to September -- these guys are harvested the moment they molt their only protection, a hard outer shell. What's left is a tiny, cute, defenseless crab that you'll bread and fry and consume like a monster who appreciates haute cuisine. These are the delicious benefits of having the most advanced brain on the food chain. Sorry, crabs, you sustainable, delectable little invertebrates.
If that looks like a bunch of cactus on the grill, it's because it is. Nopales are also called prickly pears, and that's really what they should be called all the time. It has been decreed!
If you live in the American Southwest, or a neighborhood with a substantial Hispanic population, nopales are pretty easy to find. Less easy: cleaning and cooking them. You may be aware that cacti have spines, so get rid of those. Does that really need to be said? Sheesh. Then boil them -- they're a bit slimy, like okra -- THEN grill them up and put them in a fajita that you'll eat by yourself, satisfied only by the knowledge that you conquered nature by cooking a cactus, and you'll stay so skinny and beautiful forever.
If you're the kind of lout who's too lazy to patiently steam an artichoke, how the hell did you make it this far down the page? Now that you're here, you might as well cook up these fiber-rich beauties and prepare a simple butter-lemon-garlic dipping sauce -- perfect spring flavors -- and ponder all the weirdly shaped food you've been eating this month.
Holy fish, as they say! Did you even know that seafood has seasons? Well, you should, and mackerel is so hot right now. Not only that, but it's surprisingly sustainable, low in mercury, and high in omega-3s, all things you want up until you're filled with regret at bringing home all this raw mackerel and stinking up your kitchen before lightly pan-frying it with those spring classics: lemon, butter... and maybe a little rosemary, because you're feeling wild and crazy on this mackerel high.
In case you're wondering, Kurt Cobain declared long ago that it's OK to eat fish because they don't have any feelings. All is well!
Fava beans get a bad rap, but that's what happens when a food's most notable preparation involves cannibalism and Italian wine. Favas have many names, including: broad bean, faba bean, field bean, bell bean, English bean, horse bean, Windsor bean, pigeon bean, tic(k) bean, and Saveur refers to them as the mag's favorite "dark horse legume." Whatever you say, Saveur!
Favas, like most legumes, are a good source of plant-based protein, but if you have favism, watch out -- eating undercooked favas, or even breathing fava bean pollen, could give you anemia. Assuming you're favism-free, try roasting them and subbing them into your favorite bean dip.
Holy shit, why the hell aren't we eating more watercress?! There's already an engaging, well-sourced article about the incredible benefits of watercress, so no need to bore you with more details. Suffice it to say that if you're not putting watercress on EVERY SANDWICH YOU MAKE in April -- including peanut butter and jelly -- you're crazy.
"Micro" is so in right now, mostly for greens and penises belonging to Hitler, and since Hitler's birthday happens to be 4/20, disgrace his name further by sucking down microgreens while snickering at the fact that the genocidal maniac had a minuscule member.
If you prefer your greens without a dressing of WWII memories, well, weird. But you can put microgreens on just about anything, really -- they're packed with nutrients because they're the young greens of any number of plants, from chard to arugula to mustard to cilantro and everything in between.
Nothing says spring like eating flowers and reading The Waste Land aloud to the people you've tricked into becoming your audience after offering them edible flowers. Like fiddleheads, you'll have to trudge down to the farmers market and fight your way through a battalion of strollers to get your hands on squash blossoms, which have a short season and go bad quickly. Once you do, you'll be treated to a light, zucchini-flavored vessel to stuff with whatever disgustingly unhealthy foods you can fit inside and roast.
Lots of brownies, man. Woah. Too many brownies. How long have I been sitting here writing this? What if this isn't even real, and these words are meaningless? Good brownies, though.
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Anthony Schneck is the Health editor at Thrillist who's working on a microgreen and squash blossom wreath to celebrate the rite of spring. Follow him: @AnthonySchneck.