Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Asparagus People

Assholes exist in all of the seasons.  Yet, as fall stretches into winter my tolerance of them diminishes.

I'd like to think that my demeanor at market is courteous, helpful, and educational.  There are many people that come to me asking for recipes or inspiration of how to use different vegetables.  One woman recently told me that my initial enthusiasm for kohlrabi was what introduced her to what turned out to be a favourite food, and something that she's looked forward to being in season again during its months of unavailability.  When one gentleman bemoaned not knowing what to do with so many radishes to capitalize on a bargain, I suggested he try making radishkraut.  Later he told me that the radishkraut was excellent, and it inspired him to research other fermentation techniques that he was looking forward to trying.  These sorts of interactions have kept me inspired.  They don't keep me warm in the high winds and deep chill of mid-November, but they give me a reason for standing outside at market.

Then there are asparagus people.  It is a pet peeve of mine, a collision that completely t-bones the unsuspecting fuck that asks for it, but I take no prisoners when it comes to stupid questions.  I mean, in the diminishing growing season of Ontario, the median between summer's bounty, fall's rich display of hearty greens and colorful abundance of squash, and the abysmal shit of the winter months, why do you come to a farmer's market looking for asparagus?  Its not the thing itself: I fucking love asparagus. I personally consume at least 10 kilograms of its green stalks every short, precious season - not including what gets canned into the larder.  I am sad that the season is bereft of tender stalks, or tender anything.  Kisses need to be braised in November.  Yet you come to me in the shivering grey, using "its cold today" as a salutation, and tell me you can't seem to find any asparagus.  Maybe you are completely oblivious: 'Was it a bad year for it?'  Or maybe, what's worse, you really don't care that asparagus isn't in season and need to have it anyway, no matter how much methyl bromide it gets doused with on its way here from Peru.

Forgive me. My blood pressure is high and then there is the whiskey.

What offends my sad little heart is the hubris.  The way we, as a society, want to have everything, all of the time, no matter what real limitations should prevent us from having it.  We get those flaccid imported stalks whenever we want them with no anticipation, with no expectation.  It should be that what we eat is a representation of the land, of what is good and flavorful when it is good and flavorful.  From that loose and arguable respect of nature doing what nature does in its own time culture is formed, cuisines develop, traditions grow. But, refrigeration is pretty good, so we can get an edible, not-quite-fresh vegetable whenever we want it.  The acclimatization to this modern norm dulls us into tepid acceptance of uniformity.  It tarnishes our appreciation of what is exceptional when its right in front of us.  Its excessive masturbation killing a healthy appetite for passionate sex.  I think it makes us dumb.  Really, I think its unacceptable.

The cusp of Winter makes me reflect on these things when I drink the cold nights away.  When I see you at market I will happily teach you how to make your cabbage so bad it'll be good again in a few months. I will tell you how to store your onions until March. If you ask me if I have asparagus, I will make fun of you, and in so many words tell you to go fuck yourself.