31 March 2008

Ah, asparagus

Tal was given an unusual gift over the weekend: two large bundles of freshly cut asparagus each held together with two wide purple rubber bands. The giver's instructions were simple: stand the bundles cut side down in a tall container of water, store the container in the refrigerator, eat asparagus soon and often. What a treat. The jolly green giant's version of this delicacy is never going to be the same.

I have a priest friend who, after leaving parish work, has become involved in the Slow Food movement and I found myself thinking about her as I washed 20 delicate green spears, their tips a heavenly, heathery purple, and located that spot above the cut end where it snaps naturally, separating the tough from the tender. Slow Food is all about shortening the distance our food has to travel before it arrives in our kitchens; Slow Food is about connections within the food community – farm, market, consumer; Slow Food is about sitting down to eat; Slow Food is about taking the time to mix up a dish by hand.

Edgefield County is host to numerous roadside stands and Saturday farmers’ markets during many months of the year, beginning about now. I think that with this unexpected gift of asparagus I may have received an invitation to pay more attention to where our food comes from, to become slightly more knowledgeable about what grows here naturally and at what time of year. No, I’m not going to turn my back on raspberries or Asian pears when I really want them. But, I can purchase them well aware that they probably don’t thrive here naturally or that they wouldn’t grow here at the particular time of year I find myself longing for them.

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