An April Letter from the Editor: Magic Day Is Coming (Here’s What to Eat)
On a cold day in early March I went on a visit to an Irish dairy farm in West Cork (a virtual visit, sadly, as there’s no place I’d rather be in spring than an irish dairy farm), and Vanessa Kiely O’Connor, a family farmer whom you can and must find on Instagram under the moniker The Dairy Fairy, casually dropped a mention that electrified every one of us: “At the moment,” she said in her Irish lilt, cows drifting behind her, “we’re planning for Magic Day.”
Excuse me? What is Magic Day and how do I get in on it? was the unified response — and fortunately it’s eminently open to all, cows and humans alike. Magic Day, for an Irish farmer, is April 1, when the grass shifts emerald. If you’re a cow, Magic Day is when your food sweetens into a cream- and butter-making feast.
I avidly seized onto Magic Day and promptly ditched April Fools’. While pranks are fun (I left a “leek” under my bathroom sink for my husband to find one year), I think we need less leg-pulling this spring, after a year that felt like one very long bad joke gone off the rails. We need Magic Day, as the world emerges green and warm, with outdoors a sorely needed space. We need fresh pastures and green things — all the green things.
“It is magic; the weather is getting better, and the sun is coming out,” Vanessa told us. The magic is real; this greening of the landscape is directly tied to our food, as in the Kerrygold butter she and her cows contribute to. “The butter production in Ireland is from April to the end of August. Everything just ties in with nature, really.” We might not be dairy cows, but we are just as tied to nature, and the warmth of Magic Day is what we need. Ready to count down with me?
What does one eat for Magic Day? I think it’s a moment to get your hands on whatever piece of spring magic you can. I personally think that actual fresh spring peas are magical (they’re a little less glamorous than ramps and asparagus, but so special when just out of the pod) so this fresh pea and ricotta toast speaks to me. Tiny delicate potatoes are a favorite spring treat; they’d be great in this buttermilk ranch potato salad. Socca is one of Southern France’s greatest gifts; top its hot crispy chickpea wheel with soft cheese and all the fresh veggies you can shave up. I might eat this garlic pasta with fresh peas and asparagus at least three times in April, alternating with this tortellini and spring veggie soup. And whether your party is six (vaccinated) friends or just you, this ultimate spring party salad is such a treat. I have rhubarb plants in my yard (they grow like weeds!) so a basic rhubarb crisp or this rhubarb-almond snacking cake are on the spring agenda too. But my biggest treat in the spring is the peppery bite of slender radishes; I love these clever, beautiful recipes with radishes, like tahini and brown butter-dipped bites.
April 1 ushers in a whole month devoted to all things spring here at Kitchn. Along with all the spring holidays, we are throwing open the windows for spring cleaning with a slate of smart secrets and inspiring hacks for scrubbing our kitchens fresh, plus a feature on the rise (and rise, and rise) of cleaning videos on TikTok. We are also diving deep on rice this month, with a rich collection of stories and recipes around this most treasured of ingredients, and the rice-o-pedia you didn’t know you needed (but will bookmark and love forever). Plus, the ultimate egg salad showdown, an interview with a favorite poet for National Poetry Month, and a kickoff to farmers market season.
Last but not least: I have to make sure you see our freshly-launched guide to the very best kitchen tools. The 2021 edition of Kitchn Essentials: Tools is a fun, beautiful, brilliant list of everything you could ever need for your kitchen.