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Pickle Me This

May 25, 2008

The Wait is Over

“The earliest recipes for this vegetable are about 2500 years old, written in ancient Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphics, suggesting Mediterranean as the plant’s homeland. The Caesars took their asparagus passion to extravagant lengths, chartering ships to scour the empire for the best spears and bring them back to Rome. Asparagus even inspired the earliest frozen food industry, in the first century, when Roman charioteers would hustle fresh asparagus from the Tiber River Valley up into the Alps and keep it buried there in snow for six months, so it could be served with a big ta-daa at the autumnal Feast of Epicurus. So we are not the first to go to ridiculous lengths to eat foods out of season.” — Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Last summer it was well-documented when three events coincided to change our lives. The first was the garden, our first, and through some miracle it grew, bearing melons, tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber. Second was our local farmer’s market, which we started attending at the end of July, and these visits brought us yellow tomatoes, blue potatoes, abundant squash and extraordinary cheese. And third was that we both read Animal Vegetable Miracle, an extraordinary story, from which we learned about seasons, how we’re connected to them and to the earth through the variety of things we eat. Because we’d really had no idea before, and coming to understand was the most amazing (and delicious) education. I’d missed twenty-seven asparagus seasons by that point, and so I swore I’d never miss another.

Ontario asparagus appeared in our grocery store last week, and we’ve been eating it by the bundle. Looking especially forward to the local farmers market here in our new neighbourhood starting up in less than two weeks, so we’ll be able to catch the end of the asparagus crop there.
And then we’ll follow the culinary season, as we’re learning to do, feasting on the vegitannual. I’m rereading Animal Vegetable Miracle too, but taking it slow, following its seasons as they mirror our own. We’ve also got a garden here at our new house, albeit in pots–the plants of which some failed to survive a run-in with squirrelly types sometime last night. Such are the challenges though, and how pleased we are to face them. Here at our house we’re looking forward to a delicious summer ahead.

Below, check out the pie I baked last weekend, made with the localest of rhubarbs. And do note that we’re going to see Barbara Kingsolver on Tuesday, reading at This is Not a Reading Series. I think that tickets are still available.

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