As I start to grapple with the seasonal question (to CSA or not to CSA) a Friday Five comes to mind: five vegetables I did not seriously consider until I was an adult. Enjoy.
Canned or pickled beets really give this root veggie a bad reputation for the under 12 demographic of produce consumers. Had I discovered the perfect combination of goat cheese and freshly roasted beets, I would have happily welcomed them into my repertoire a very long time ago.
I still have a love/hate relationship with the radish. They’re pretty. They make you burp. (They could be the healthy equivalent to chugging a two liter of Mountain Dew for the average thirteen year old boy.) They’re not bad when topped with hummus. But. They’re always the first thing that I give away when they show up in my CSA haul.
To be fair, I was not aware of ramps until I was an adult. But then again, I think that the vein-like bottoms would have grossed out a nine year old version of myself. Now, of course, they’re an integral part of my welcoming of spring, along with morels, fiddleheads, rhubarb and asparagus. A strange and delightful bunch, these are the ambassadors of spring.
You can’t see it, but tucked within this sandwich from Katalina’s Cafe Corner is a boatload of fennel. Fennel’s a strange one. The forces are against it from the beginning. First, there’s the taste. When I was a kid, only really old or really strange people liked the taste of anise. (Never mind the fact that roasted fennel is delightfully sweet and elegant.) (Also, I wonder how I would view myself today. Old. Weird.) Then there’s the look. What an odd-looking vegetable. Throw in the fact that many grocery stores poorly market it as anise, and you’ve got to wonder how it is that fennel even survived produce evolution.
Clearly, my palate has become more accepting of vegetables as I’ve gotten older. (Or weirder.) But some things never change. Case in point: eggplant. It’s scientifically proven that eggplant is gross, no matter what you do with it. Whether it’s fried and covered with sauce, baked and paired with couscous or blended up into a deceiving hummus-like texture, eggplant is horrible. It also makes my throat itch and gives me a rash. I’m not biased, though. Studies everywhere prove that eggplant is evil. I’ll just have to find those studies. Stay tuned. I’ll post them. I promise.