Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Glory Be To God For Dappled Things
We were in luck -- there were still a few Delicata available. There were also some wonderful confetti-colored acorn squash. "I have to try one of those," I announced. (I found out later that this particular variety is called Carnival.)
One of my many garden eccentricities is a fascination with anything unusual for its type. (Fellow Traveler says that this is part of the "Ooh, Shiny!" Syndrome.) Why grow green snap beans if you can grow striped chartreuse-and-purple snap beans? Why not candy-stripe beets, or golden beets, instead of the old Detroit beets that my parents grew every year? Round orange pumpkins are a dime a dozen; what about the elegant red-gold French heirloom pumpkins instead?
Obviously I'm a GMO developer's dream consumer, which is why it's a good thing that I'm also an organo-locovoric type who shuns such products whenever I can identify them, on principle. (And usually loudly, in the store -- as in, "Oh, look! Here's some Acme Corn Critters made with genetically manipulated corn!") If my squash is tri-colored, I want it to be because its ancestors were cross-bred with lovely multihued heritage varieties, not because a mad scientist in a multinational agribusiness added some calico-kitty DNA to his witch's brew of Frankensquash.
And some of these veggies don't just have a pretty face. Chioggia beets, with their candy-cane interiors, are wonderfully flavored, as are the purple-striped Dragon Langerie snap beans. One of our great discoveries this summer was the Black Russian variety of tomato, which beat out all competitors in my BLT taste test. Other unusual veggies are -- well -- meh; all hat and no cattle. But that's okay too.
I'm going to continue my love affair with dappled things in next year's garden...and expand that category to include the "Miscellaneous" section of seed catalog offerings. After all, we can get a lot of very nice veggies from our Amish friends; but try finding salsify or Florence fennel around here. FT is chuckling over my current moodling over sketches of our garden plot -- which will be divided into raised beds in the spring -- trying to decide the most advantageous spots to plant this motley assortment.
Frankenfood: no. A garden of earthly delights to the eye as well as the palate: oh, yes.