Monday, 14 March 2011

In which we discover the garden of earthy delights

To be printed 17/03/11.

I get excited by a lot of mundane things in life. Museum gift shops. Rice pudding skin. When the bus pulls up with the doors aligned perfectly in front of me, as though I've personally summoned it. But until last week, I didn't realise I could get so excited by vegetables.

We've started getting an organic veg box.

A few weeks ago, we didn't even known we needed more veg. Or better veg, or veg we'd never heard of. Vegetables were for putting in stir fries, roasting into oblivion, and routinely throwing out once a month after they turned black and oozed liquid over the bottom of the crisper drawer.

The vegetables of studentdom are as follows:

1. Peppers. Cut chunky and plonked on pasta, with distinct bias towards yellow and red because the green ones taste too much of grass.

2. Courgette/aubergine/mushroom. For the hippies and vegetarians.

3. Butternut squash and sweet potato. Because they're a bit like pudding, but as a first course. You can put honey on them.

4. Onions. Shut up, of course they count.

But during the last year and a half, our ascent into proper adulthood has been marked by becoming fully fledged legume-fanciers. And for the true vegetable proficient, or at least one without the space or inclination to grow the ruddy things themselves, the holy grail is the organic veg box. Ours gets delivered by a man named Simon Bear. He wears a fleece. The whole set up couldn't be more rustic if it put on a hessian jerkin and sang Greensleeves.

"The carrots have mud on them!" I found myself squealing. "Look how filthy the potatoes are!" agreed Flatmate. "That's the dirt of deliciousness. Good, proper, expensive, dirt." "I can't believe we spent so long eating CLEAN carrots. Ugh, Tesco, put away your soulless sponge".

It's worth noting, though, that just as there is always more a little more toothpaste in the tube, you will never quite finish all of the veg you buy. The initial rush of "yay veg!" on day one is slowly replaced by "mm, veg" on days two and three, then "sigh, veg" on days four-six and "bah, takeaway" on day seven. Then you throw away the wilting remains with a heavy heart, and the feeling that you're throwing away a tiny bit of forest and some critters. As well as roughly £4.56.

And of course, it's just another phase in the great middle class mission to hijack everything rustic and muddy that the wholesome, ruddy-cheeked salt-of-the-earth poor have been doing forever, like calling their kids after parlourmaids and dipping their chips in some runny egg.

Back in the olden days (yore, yesteryear, days gone hence), as far as I've learned from books and films and The Good Life, vegetables were organic as standard. That was just how they came. But hey, if reverse aspiration is responsible for bringing Swiss chard, so tenderly steamed and buttered, into our lives, then sign me up now and call me Gertrude.


  1. This week I got a vegetable I'd never seen before. I still don't know what it is. But I don't want to post a picture and ask on Twitter because I'm afeared of how ignorant I'll come off as :( :( :(

    Also, why are aubergines for hippies and vegetarians? YOU CAN DEEP FRY THEM! (cf Moro cookbook = SO GOOD)

  2. Do not be afeared! We must pool our knowledge and grow together as vegetable consumers. What colour? Is it knobbly?

    Also - I LOVE aubergines. Sometimes I just write stuff for the sake of it.

  3. It is green. It looks a bit like fennel in that there's a bulb at the bottom (but it's green not white) and shoots coming out the top - but then at the top of those shoots, there are leaves that look a bit like beetroot leaves. I am dumbfounded. I'll take a picture in the morning and I will be overjoyed if together, we can find the answer.

  4. On the aubergine front, the Moro deep fry is phenomenal, but also this Marcus Wareing recipe is top notch too, my total fallback for easy dinners.

    Have found that while supermarkets charge a pound a pop on aubergines, you can normally get two for about £1.20 from the grocers - SHOCKING SUPERMARKET STUFF! This world away from supermarkets is a new dawn. I think I might have unintentionally given up all the bad supermarkets for Lent (excluding the Co Op and Waitrose because they're good to the world/their employees, probably, also I like them the best).

  5. Last but not least my dad is a fan of John's the grocers next to the pound shop in Muswell Hill is a good grocers if you need a top up on your box!