The vegetable kingdom
A while back I was going through the checkout line in the grocery store (Yes, we Big Time Authors do our own shopping. We also stand in line in the post office, when we canâ€™t bully someone else into doing it, clean the toilet before the cleaning lady comes, and change our own smoke alarm batteries. I once answered the phone and heard a long pause, which normally means a telemarketer but before I could put it down the woman on the other end squeaked, â€œIs that Laurie King? Oh! I didnâ€™t think youâ€™d answer your own telephone!â€ Yeah, well, the butler was off clearing the drains.)
So there I was in the checkout line, with my usual mountain of veggies and fruits, and the girl working the register commented, â€œI donâ€™t eat vegetables.â€ I think what she was really commenting on was that sheâ€™d had to look up the price codes for three of my purchases, indicating that organic fennel, purple cauliflower, and red carrots did not come before her on an hourly basis.
I laughed politely at her remark, figuring sheâ€™d meant, â€œI donâ€™t eat weird vegetables,â€ which is fair enough, unless sheâ€™s sitting down at my table in which case she eats the damned weird vegetables. But the bagger said something about not liking vegetables either, and the conversation escalated, and it turned out that she meant it, she didnâ€™t eat vegetables, period. And not much fruit, either.
I could only stare at her. She might as well have said, â€œI donâ€™t breathe oxygen.â€
Why would you not want to eat vegetables? Meat (or some variation thereof) is fine and the rice/pasta/potato slot on the plate is always the place for some interesting variations (remind me one day to tell you about polenta with gorgonzola and pecans) but the heart of a dinner lies in what is done with the vegetable kingdom. Shall I roast that purple cauliflower? What about that dinosaur kale I found? No, the colors of the other things are dark, we need something brightâ€”how about if I stir fry those yellow patty-pans with red peppers?
Iâ€™m lucky, I know. I live in an area with farmerâ€™s markets scattered around pretty much every day of the week. An area where the grocery store stocks baby summer squashes and Persian cucumbers, and organic strawberries almost year around and occasionally ventures into lemon grass and plantainsâ€¦
Dinner time. I wonder what’s in in the vegetable bin?