If there ever was an overlooked vegetable in the modern culinary landscape - where purple beans, crosnes, chiogga beets and heirloom tomatoes reign, it is surely the humble little cucumber. His new yellow speckled, apple shaped cousin showing up at specialty shops might be peaking some interest, but the familiar green varieties are commonly dismissed, considered bland, boring or indigestible (really? so they say). For whatever reason, cucumbers just don’t elicit much excitement among foodies or even your average eaters. You don’t see them on many chef's menus, do you?
Beating to my own drum, they definitely adorn mine, jazzing up many a seafood entrée or appetizer, soup or salad in summer, and at home they are a daily part of my diet. I love a cucumber salad straight up with an herb salt and a good olive oil, and rejoice in the fresh crunch they bring to so many dishes. Maybe it is the Anglaise in me, but I also enjoy a cucumber sandwich (the only noble use for white bread besides a trashy grilled cheese). I love tossing diced cucumber into a hot soup, spicy curry or rice dish for refreshing contrast - very winner.
An obvious cucumber fan as it is, I was easily won over by the new mini cucumbers by Savoura. Four inches in length, similar to the Lebanese variety I usually buy at select market stands all summer, they are the perfect size - no peeling necessary, no seeds, with crunch, flavour and explosive water content intact. They are produced by a branch in Danville, L’Estrie (the mother house is in Portneuf, QC). The brand also offers little mini packs of three smaller cukes for kids’ lunches (one vegetable portion), available in most supermarkets, very smart for the mom market, I guess. I’ll go for the larger eight-packs holding the slightly more mature specimens with a thicker skin, more flavourful, less perishable.. That's the only thing with these babies, they are more fragile than thick-skinned cucumber from the field, so they won't last as long in your fridge, but being so small and convenient, 'ils se mangent tout seul', shouldn't be a problem. I’m just happy to have the option of tasty, local cucumbers year round.
The packaging is made in Quebec and fully recyclable, no insecticides or herbicides are used in cultivation either. I can’t help but think about all the energy they use to operate those gigantic (football fields of) greenhouses, but I am told they are looking into alternative energy sources in order to reduce greenhouse emissions.
In any case, I would rather Quebeckers buy from them then pay for the equivalent carbon footprint for a (less fresh) non-local product that is trucked in from the States. Hats off to Savoura and Les Serres du Saint Laurent not just for their cukes, but because they have come along way with their greenhouse tomatoes too. I know everyone likes whining about tomatoes, but honestly, we have a decent choice off season now. I'm up to my ears in our garden tomatoes at this point, so I haven't been checking up on Savoura lately, but I will be in the upcoming monthes for sure.
This is as close as I get to cuddling up to ‘big business’ by the way. I know they have gotten a lot of help from the government, and I wish more little artisanal, seasonal guys were as lucky. Truth be told, I want more than Savoura. But still, this is a progressive Quebec company trying to be as sustainable as possible, putting out a quality product, which in reaching the masses, might help in weaning Mr. Mme. Tout le monde off imported junk in some small way. So, I happily endorse them for that, knowing full well that I will certainly be relying on them come wintertime too. For the occasional fresh tomato, and now for cucumbers too (that you just can’t put up besides in pickle form).