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The best of each season

Everyone should celebrate the diversity and variety of Spanish foods when they sit down to eat. That's the objective of this new Seasonal Products section. Every week we'll share with you the best places to try seasonal products, focusing on the diversity of Spanish gastronomy and enjoying the best foods available each month.

For Spain's extensive and wonderful wealth of foods to taste as good as they get, it's important to always respect the natural laws of the season. Each season yields its own products, which are top quality, abundant and better priced.

Going to the market is one of life's most pleasurable experiences, a celebration for all of the senses, an homage to a wonderful kind of indulgence, whose colors and smells change every few months.

Seasonal cooking from each region is by far the best in every way. Fruits and vegetables have better-known, more obvious cycles, but meat and fish are also seasonal products.

The four seasons at the market

Below we offer a quick overview of the most common seasonal products at the market. It's important to note that fall is the busy harvest period, when many important agricultural products are collected and prepared, such as mushrooms, fresh meat, game, chestnuts and corn.

Then winter arrives, and comfort food helps us gather strength and endure the cold weather. The main holiday products are most closely associated with winter, a season of splendor and surplus when it comes to homemade soups and stews, tubers and legumes. The fish market becomes stocked with gilt-head bream, sea bass, swordfish and cod, among many other species, while wild rabbit, venison, hare and pheasant are the first-rate hunting treasures of the season.

There follows spring, when meals are generally lighter. It's a festival of peas, beans, asparagus, tomatoes, eggplant, artichokes, zucchini, and wild mushrooms, and also fruit such as apricots, cherries, plums, mandarin oranges and strawberries; white meat such as lamb, rabbit and pullet; and fish like tuna, trout and turbot.

And to bring this exciting circle to a close, there's summer, a very special season. It's a time for informal eating, when barbeques, seafood platters and alfresco dining become the norm. At this time of year, tomatoes, honeydew, peaches and watermelon taste exactly as they should. Bluefish, such as sardines and mackerel, take center stage, along with squid and conger eel and, when temperatures rise, we eat ice cream and sorbet.

A tribute to producers

Many years ago, fine dining decidedly returned its focus to products, which today seems an unstoppable process. It's comforting to discover that excellent chefs enthusiastically pay homage to producers, even naming them in some of their recipes.

If you respect the rules for eating quality products which are in season, you'll have taken the first step towards an impeccably nutritional diet which is respectful of our spirit and outstanding in terms of flavor. We hope this section will help guide you along this path.

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