Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What food looks like

I remember being surprised, when we first started shopping at the farmer's market, at how crooked my sweet potatoes were.  They were so hard to peel!  They had dirt stuck under everything!  These weren't the vegetables I was used to, the straight, clean, easy to peel sweet potatoes my father used to hand me before dinner to deal with.  

Now, when I go to the farmers market, I expect my potatoes to look like they just came out of the ground, I expect the mushrooms I buy to have dirt on the end.  I expect my vegetables to be crooked.  I was really surprised last week though, when we went to buy carrots, and I was confronted with Giant Carrots.  They were at least three inches in diameter.  I mean, they were enormous.  I'm used to organic, farmers market produce being smaller and less shiny, like my strawberries.  I'm not used to organic produce being massive.  

The first time I saw Brussels sprouts on a stalk, I was confused.  (I was also 23, so there's that.)  You mean Brussels sprouts don't just come in a plastic bag from the grocery store?  I'm still not entirely sure what peas come in, although I hear a pod, because I'm convinced they come in a white package in the freezer section.  (I'm hoping there is a recipe in one of my cookbooks that uses fresh peas, and then I can figure this out.)  

I think it is a good thing, to constantly challenge our perceptions of what food looks like, what food should look like, and to recognize that aesthetics aren't everything and vegetables taste the same, regardless of shape.  (Size is a different matter.)  It's also important to know where our food comes from, not in a cage-free, hormone-free, go to the butchers and watch them kill a cow kind of way (although, go to town, if you're up for it); but in the most basic way.  What kind of plant the food you are eating is part of.  Is it a tree or a bush or a root?  Does it grow on a stalk?  Are there flowers involved?  

What has been your most surprising, "Huh. So I guess that's how that vegetable grows" moment?  

1 comment:

  1. I remember being surprised that all colors of bell peppers come from the same plant. I thought that green bell peppers were one plant, red another, etc. I didn't realize until a few years ago that the peppers change color the longer you let them ripen.