According to the traditional Asian calendar, Summer is the Season of Fire, the time of "Ultimate Yang". Energy is high, daylight is plentiful and growing things flourish and reach the apex of their ripeness and fullness. This is the season of the Heart, whose dominant emotion is Joy.
Midsummer farmer's markets in Northern California are brimming with exquisite produce of the utmost freshness and flavor. Almost everything I have sampled in recent weeks is of extraordinary quality.
This is the time to revel in the abundant colors, flavors and fragrances of nature. Farmer's market purveyors offer many luscious varieties of produce such as plums, peaches and nectarines which are seldom found in commercial supermarkets.
Don't forget to select red, yellow and orange sweet peppers, crimson dry farmed tomatoes, fragrant melons and bunches of aromatic basil. (If you can't use all the basil, tie a cotton string around the stems and hang it up to dry in a warm spot in your kitchen for later use.)
Produce of this quality is dense with nutrients, requires little preparation and is great for casual snacks and meals. Ultra ripe fruit is at its best eaten out of hand. Make a simple gourmet meal with sliced dry farmed tomatoes sprinkled with olive oil, sea salt and fresh basil leaves. Eat slowly and savor the essence of Summer, the Season of Joy.