Sunday, July 30, 2006

Garden Eggs

Once upon a time Wenonah was attending a conference down in Southern France in a town called Avignon and she forced me to fly across the ocean and spend a week with her there.

And while Wenonah was at her conference I spent a lot of time walking around the town reading the guide book and learned, much to my surprise, that about 600 years ago several Popes had taken up residency in the town.

Now, while my working knowledge of the succession of various Popes, and what Wikapedia refers to as the Great Schism is somewhat sketchy I could see that at some time in the past the city's rulers felt somewhat insecure vis-a-vie its neighbors.

While on one side the city is protected by the Rhone and the other sits up on an impressive cliff even today, there are miles and miles of massive stone walls surrounding the old city.

And up at the top, at the highest point of the city there's a fortified castle that has recently been gutted and turned into a modern conference center.

But what I wanted to talk about, the reason I even bring up Avignon, is that down below the castle, actually on a back street.

There is a nice, quite little restaurant with half a dozen tables.

And one night we were having dinner there. A dinner with numerous courses and a bottle, or was that two, of local wine when, while we were trying to decide on which desert with the most chocolate in it, the chef came out and asked us how we liked the aubergine.

(while we had ordered different entrées they both had eggplant as an ingredient).

And we told him the meal was wonderful, we were very happy with it. And then I asked, being a farmer and all and interested in such things, "What variety of eggplant do you use?"

And he hit the roof.

"Eggplant?" he hissed. Turning up his nose. "What is this eggplant?"

I told him that's what we called aubergine back in the states. "In the US, people call aubergine eggplant."

"Why?"

I started to tell him I didn't know but he wasn't really interested in my reply.

"Eggplant is a very ugly word, don't you think? Why would anyone call aubergine something so ugly?"

And he kept on, getting himself very upset that people from the US could so insult such a tasty, versatile vegetable with such an ugly name.

Eventually, after he got over, or at least accepted, to a degree, that Americans could be so crude, he went on to praise aubergine and highlight the many different ways it could be used and cooked and prepared.

The only reason I mention this is because several nights ago I was reading a British paper on the internet, trying to get the British take on Bush and Blair's recent open mic session when I noticed an article about aubergine.

http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/food_and_drink/features/article1189497.ece

A nice article with several recipes but I noticed that not once in the entire article is the fruit referred to as 'eggplant'.

Repeatedly, the author call eggplant, aubergine.

And you know, maybe we're alone here. Last summer a friend from Guinea was visiting the farm. That night we had a dish with eggplant and he asked what was in the meal and we told him.

"Eggplant."

And he said, "back home we don't call it eggplant. We call it garden eggs."

So there.

So for all of you out there who don't make a regular habit of eating garden eggs look at the Independent article. I think it gives a fresh look at a fruit (or is that a vegetable) that most Americans only think of as something you put in Eggplant parmesan.

and since we are growing half a dozen different type of eggplant this year (Thai, Italian, Japanese, Asian, American) and because this year it looks like we're going to have a large egg plant crop its time to pull out the cook books and reconsider the garden eggs.

(I had a shareholder recently tell me she wasn't really interested in eggplant because, "I had eggplant parmesan when I was a kid and it wasn't very good.')

Other farm news:

Tomatoes. The tomato flood gates are about to open. We should be getting more and more tomatoes for the next month or so (I hope).

Sweet corn. Not next week, but the week after.

Okra. yes we intend to have okra this year. We were just late getting it in to the ground and don't expect any until late August.

Rain and watering. We almost had a water disaster. As you remember, first it stopped raining for two weeks, then, when I started irrigating, my pump broke so I couldn't irrigate.

All the while, the ground is getting drier and drier and the repair shop was getting slower and slower so I went to check on the pump and stood over the repairman's shoulder until he got it fixed.

And then, when I got home and hooked the pump up and moved the gun sprinkler in place, it starts raining. And Tuesday night it dropped over 9/10ths of an inch out here on the farm.

So we're OK again.

We need an inch of rain each and every week. With rain and vegetables it doesn't matter that we got ten inches a month ago.

With rain it's what have you done for me lately.

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