Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Wonder Why I Have No Restraint . . .

I am not a health nut – I’m a moderately healthy eater and moderately healthy exerciser and I don’t go to extremes with either – very often. Pregnancy does not count. That said, there is something about a stack of fresh fruits and vegetables that makes my little recipe lovin’ heart kathunk with all the possibilities.

Normally, we shop at Food Lion, which is the cheap and crappy grocery in our neighborhood, but also the least expensive and the closest. Food Lion has awful produce – green onions are more brown than green and chewy as dental floss, oranges are mealy and unsweet, bananas are hard and tiny, squash is softly rotting, and avocados – don’t even try it. On my normal shops, I stick to the basics – apples, a potato, maybe an onion, some carrots. These things even Food Lion can’t totally destroy. Most of my roughage comes canned or frozen (side note – a new fave dessert is frozen cherries, strawberries, and peaches with Cool Whip on top – ladle it out into a bowl before you begin your dinner, and by the time you’re ready for it, it’s just melty and gooey enough that it doesn’t break your teeth).

Sometimes, though, if I need something a little more exotic for a recipe I’ll head to the infinitely fancier Harris Teeter (at Food Lion you can get pickled pig’s feet or pork rinds in abundance, but there are no leeks, veggie burgers, or crab-stuffed tuna steaks in sight.)

Harris Teeter is my dealer, and fresh produce is my drug. They’ve got me pegged, you see. You walk into any Harris Teeter and the first place you’re steered is the produce aisle. I hear the Hallelujah chorus every time I step inside. Jewel bright raspberries and inky dark blueberries are piled provocatively in my line of sight. Peeking up from the aisle behind is the top of the tower o’ citrus – globes of firm, fleshy, vitamin-C packed oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, tangelos, still glowing from the Florida or California sun. I round the corner and stumble onto the avocados – oh dear God, avocadoes that are perfectly ripe – firm, but still squishable, skins green and leathery and perfect as the day they were picked.

I turn my gaze to the wall of cool green veg, which is usually being gently rinsed with a fresh spray of chilled spring water. The mind boggles. Kale. Bok choi. Mustard greens. Swiss chard. Jolly little buckets of Brussels sprouts. Sophisticated stalks of asparagus, caught into a bunch and tied just so with string. Carrots, still with their green tops and rooty pointed ends, piled high in a rustic basket. Buckets of mushrooms – just fill up your paper bag with your favorite type. Shitake? Button? Portabella? Sliced, or whole? There are whole reams of different spicy peppers, four different types of green onion, squash in innumerable permutations of color, size, and shape. All of it fresh, green, bright, just begging for you to take a crunchy bite.

I buy pounds of vegetables every time I go. I can’t just buy one orange, it has to be four. Why settle for a couple of apples when you can have a whole bag? Brussels sprouts are good, yes, but Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and butternut squash is better. It's almost impossible to eat everything I purchase before it will spoil. I know this, I do, but I just can't help myself.

When Darlin' is in town, he makes a valiant effort to plow through whatever I’ve foolishly bought that is closest to spoiling. Now that he’s gone for a while – it’s all me and Jack Jack. What do you say, baby? Steamed asparagus for dinner tonight, with a side of sauteed squash, and some roasted mushroom caps for dessert? Sounds good.


super jane said...

you can tell you're pregnant. only a woman with child would elaborate and salivate so much over veggies!

ps. do you like stew? if so, i'll send you the recipe for the absolute best stew you ever did taste. i love to add cabbage and squash to mine to make it just perfect!

MSO Rin said...

I can get behind your "I wonder why I bought 17 bushels of ______," except for the mushrooms. I'm with Darlin' on that. Yick.

Asparagus casserole is divine, by the way!

Wicked M said...

FREAK. Kidding.

I love Harris Teeter too! It is one of my main joys in life right now. I love to walk in there on a Saturday morning and peruse all of the beautiful fruits and vegetables that they have on display. I could easily fill our cart with enough food for an army when I am there. LOVE!