Saturday, September 11, 2010

Beautiful Beets and Demanding Squash: A Love Story

I almost didn't read the last page of Orion's Sept|Oct issue.  The title "On Cold-Weather Vegetables" didn't exactly reach out and grab me.  I live in L.A, where roots and beets and squash are not necessities.  But.  I'm moving to Kosovo.  Cold-weather will once again be part of my seasonal life.  Meals are more of a celebration; unexpected visitors always mean caj (tea) or coffee, snacks, and perhaps a meal shared at the table.  So, on my bus ride to downtown L.A., I folded back the last page of the magazine and settled into Katrina Vandenberg's beautiful homage to the demanding parts of life, unexpected tastes, that commitment to what's difficult and unwieldy in love and life and veggies.

veggies"Back in July, the tomatoes and corn the farmers offered were cheery, Crayola-bright. October is scary ... Cold-weather vegetables are demanding. They require a little muscle behind the knife... Inside, their flesh is richly colored and dense. They're messy ... We wrestle with them. They refuse the ease of the salad bowl and insist on long roasting.

...They're acquired tastes, ones I didn't love until I was in my thirties, my husband an even more reluctant convert than I. But this time of year and at this time in our lives, our meals together are changing. When the air begins to bite with cold and the smell of decaying leaves, the colors and tastes of what we eat begin to deepen.

I watch my husband from the kitchen window as he pulls dead morning glory vines from the trellises. I love him differently than I did the day I married him.

...Andre Dubus describes the meals between married couples as not mere eating but a 'pausing in the march to perform an act together,' a sacrament that says, 'I know you will die; I am sharing food with you; it is all I can do, and it is everything.'

...Christians regularly take communion, a ritually shared meal that acknowledges the mysteries of life and death, but mealtime is especially poignant in the fall, when Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead, and Celts once celebrated Samhain, and ancient Greeks told the story of Persephone disappearing into the underworld — all harvest festivals that connect sharing food with death and gratitude. So we start with what the earth has given us. We shape it into something else. Perhaps there are candles. We talk. We have enough and are together..."

~Katrina Vandenberg

You can listen to the whole story here

(Photo: loxosceles,

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