I get sad when winter rolls around, as nearly all of my favorite organic vegetables disappear from the market. I realized today that I am partially to blame for my seasonal produce depression. I make the vegetables that I am comfortable with and carelessly waltz past those that are unfamiliar.
I decided to buy whatever organic vegetables I saw that made me even slightly uncomfortable. Anytime I saw a something tuberous, I grabbed it. If it was bumpy, ugly, or scarred, I placed it in my basket. It was sort of fun, but I did allow myself a few favorites. I must confess, however, that I was unable to completely follow my own rules when I shamefully ignored not one but two different varieties of beets.
I’m just not ready for beets. I don’t want to talk about it.
While I’m confessing, I should also admit that I had no idea what one one of the vegetables I purchased even was. I searched in vain for a sign, but finally decided to just buy it and watch the computer screen for information when the cashier rang it up. I was very pleased with this plan, and thought about what it could be as the cashier begin to sort through my small, lumpy mountain.
She scanned the purple fingerlings, the celery roots, the giant rutabaga. The turnips rang up without issue, boldly declaring themselves “purpletop” on the giant screen in front of me, and I smiled at the information. The kale, of course, wasn’t an problem, and neither were the russets. At last she came to my mystery vegetable and held it up, with a pained look on her face. Crap.
“What exactly is this?” she asked me.
“I don’t know?”
“Can you go look up the price per pound?”
“There wasn’t a sign,” I said, defeated.
Other customers waiting behind me began to inspect my basket full of winter’s bounty as help was called in over the PA system. They didn’t seem frustrated about the wait, in fact, they seemed to enjoy playing Guess the Vegetable.
“Is it an artichoke?” the man behind me asked, and I was slightly pained that he could confuse artichokes with whatever this was, but then realized that I was the one buying a common vegetable that I didn’t recognize. Someone else suggested it was perhaps a Jerusalem artichoke, but I knew that wasn’t the right answer either. The head of the produce section finally arrived, and looked equally vexed as she palmed the mystery lump. We all studied the cheat-sheet of vegetable codes, hoping to divine the answer. It was getting embarrassing.
Finally, a mother toting two children stepped up and said, “Kohlrabi.” She even spelled it. Correctly.
I sheepishly placed it in my bag, paid, and left. Now the real challenge begins. You all need to keep me honest. I’m going to try my best to use all of these, all of these, and to resist the urge the blend everything up into a soup and pretend this never happened.
I have some research to do. Thank goodness for the internet.