I hate cilantro. Like really, REALLY HATE the stuff. It tastes very green and grassy, but not necessarily in a good way. I can pick out even the tiniest hint of cilantro added to a dish. My guacamole would never include the stuff and I find myself picking around it when served guacamole at a restaurant. When bunches of cilantro come my way in my CSA shares, I find myself (probably visually) cringing. It’s not their fault that I hate cilantro. They didn’t know. I take the stuff, cram it in my bag only to find myself discarding the wilted bunch a week later. That is until I discovered chimichurri.
It was a typical CSA pickup. I checked in. Grabbed my peaches, then started towards the veggies. I came across the usual leafy green suspects, turnips, lettuce and then stopped. I stared into the bin. A large, slightly misshaped purple thing stared back at me. Hello kohlrabi. Think broccoli stem, but more round and purple. It was seriously ugly with a few stems haphazardly extending from its base. Certainly new to me, but after being a CSA member for three years, not much phases me anymore. I picked it up, added it to my haul and headed home without the faintest idea of what to make.
It finally came! While every other blogger I know has been bragging over their CSA bounty for the past couple of weeks, I say silently lamenting my late start date. I’m hoping when I’m still collecting in November the joke will be on them, but somehow I’m not certain. I’m a bit of a CSA hopper. Or junkie. Whatever you want to call it. While I never jumped from relationship to relationship while dating, I find it difficult to commit to a single CSA. There are flaws I haven’t been able to overcome. The day of the week, the pickup time, the lack of communication, then there’s the produce itself. I’m a former member of the Yellow Hook and Tribeca CSAs and while there was nothing wrong with either of them, I never felt a connection. This year I swore would be my last year. If I couldn’t fall in love on the third try, I would need to face the fact that I was not CSA commitment material.
Most people fantasize about crisp asparagus, stalks of tender rhubarb or sweet, juicy strawberries as spring draws near. I might be the only exception. As soon as the weather starts to warm and greenmarkets gradually switch their produce offerings from cellared root vegetables and apples to bright greens that signal Spring is here to stay, I have only one thing on my mind: Garlic Scapes.
When I was growing up, my house backed up to a dried up creek that lead to a park. I loved it because it saved about 15 minutes cutting through to my friend’s house rather than having to walk all the way around. I lived in the suburbs and we always made our own fun. Most summer days I was out of the house from after breakfast until dinner time, playing with anyone who was around. We played tag, house, made bows and arrows out of willow branches, rode our bikes, attempted to build tree houses, pretty much anything we could find.
Along the dried up creek were grape vines. Not a lot, but just enough. The grapes were deep purple and so tempting. My parents told me to stay away from them because they were poisonous, but always was one to defy authority, just a little. The grapes were sweet at first with loose skins. Once you broke into the pulp, they became sour with crunchy seeds. If I ate too much I would get a strange itch in my mouth (also happens to me with pineapple), but it was thrilling to eat the forbidden fruit. I called them wild grapes. I was probably about 10 years old and didn’t know much about grapes, other than they weren’t the seedless ones we always got at the supermarket.