12.7.07

Formerly Known As Delicious

Fresh Herb Sandwich

Above: homemade bread topped with melted cheddar and fresh garden stuff... chopped red russian baby kale, chives, garlic seed-head, and basil. Drizzled with olive oil. Sprinkled with salt and pepper. Totally out of this world.


As a child, I loved to go to my grandmother's house. She grew vegetables in army quantities... potatoes, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, peas, green beans. Her land also swelled with fruit... cherries, mulberries, gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries, currants, blackberries, plums, pears. I knew what a real vegetable tasted like. I understood fruit beyond canned cocktail.

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver discusses a generation of children — our children — whose life expectancy will be shorter than the previous generation's. And it's largely due to what we're feeding them.

Some of it is our own fault. We live with the mantra of "convenience", sacrificing homemade meals to the gods of busyness. And some of it is a more subtle problem. The fruits and veggies, especially those taken out of season, just don't taste like they used to. Why should we expect our kids to want them?

I like the way Kingsolver explains the loss of deliciousness...

"How did supermarket vegetables lose their palatability, with so many people right there watching? The Case of the Murdered Flavor was a contract killing, as it turns out, and long-distance travel lies at the heart of the plot." (p.48) This plot centers largely on the breeding of "indestructible vegetables...creations that still looked decent after a road trip." Forget about the whole issue of being picked green or sitting for weeks before landing on our plates.

Maybe the place to start is to hand our children a hoe and a seed packet, then later a watering can, and finally a morning of harvest. Whether we let them wield a knife in the kitchen, to help serve it up, will be according to our level of bravery.

I can say that this has worked in part for me. We're still trying to cultivate tomato love. But squash and cucumbers are in the bag. Not the grocery bag mind you. Just the one that my kids label, "I'll eat this, because it's home-grown delicious."


"Fresh Herb Sandwich Above Sara's First Nine Patch Square." Photo, by L.L. Barkat.

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L.L.'s Tomato Abstinence

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5 Comments:

Blogger Llama Momma said...

YUM!! Okay. That's it. We're coming for lunch tomorrow. (I wish!)

Oh so true...and so sad. I read recently that children as young as 7 are starting to have yucky build-up in their arteries. (They autopsied children who were killed in car crashes.)

A couple of days ago we were at Trader Joes and Twin B. was begging for frozen sugar snap peas. I was saying, "But honey! We can get nice fresh ones at the farmers market because it's SUMMER!"

Another Mom passed me and said, "I wish my kids would beg for vegetables."

Good point. I bought the peas!

8:52 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

My second daughter decided a few months ago she didn't like cucumbers. I didn't push it. The other day I picked some fresh ones from the garden. You guessed it: she wanted one.

9:32 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Llama... wouldn't it be nice if you came to lunch? My door is open if you ever take a vacation in NY.

As young as 7! That's simply awful. Imagine what goes into that, to have such serious effects so young. I'm glad to hear your little one likes snap peas (and I bet the farmer's market ones will go over even better)... the other Mom's response is interesting to me. I don't know that children develop these kinds of tastes if we don't do the hard work of continually offering them and requiring "one bite" and eating them ourselves.

Andrea... wise woman, to woo the young one with an oil-watery smooth cool fresh cucumber!

11:39 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

My problem here is that despite many, many attempts, I still manage to kill just about everything I try to grow. I think it's hopeless.

Back in NJ, there were plenty of u-pick farms. It really is the Garden State. Here in Orange County, CA, where I expected exceptional produce, I've yet to eat a really good tomato!

6:31 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

I used to kill everything I grew. Then I started moving things around. I put the peppers in the front (egads!) and moved the tomatoes out where everyone could see. I let the herbs stay in back, where they seemed to thrive in spite of me.

So, I highly recommend the acceptance approach. Accept that we can't grow everything (this year I'm just buying my green beans at the Farmer's Market) and accept that what I can grow may grow where I didn't want to put it.

6:43 PM  

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