Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sparrow grass

Spring! The sunshine and birdsong and hint of cherry blossom on the breeze drags me from the veritable volley of things I need dragging from. Well, and the irresistibly forlorn tones of our favourite Scrivener.

This picture is of my lunch. Really. I took it just before I ate the spears with my fingers, licking the butter off and sharing a bit with the bird. I had forgotten what real asparagus tasted like. I could wax lyrical, but the tastiness of the local, seasonal vegetable has become a boring truism of the modern slow-food, organically minded, vege-box grow-your-own my-gawd-but-aren't-we-natural world. Sad, wilted, flavourless, airfreighted out-of-season beans/strawberries/lettuce/what-the-hell-ever? Horrors! The weekend supplements in the newspapers drip with beautifully styled oh-so-barely out of focus shots of trugs brimming over with home-germinated superfoods, and so, my dears, should you. The brimming trugs, I mean, not the photographs.

Lots of this is so smug I want to throw a perfectly-bedewed rare-breed tomato at someone. More than once I've squirmed at the proliferation of media sporting adorably grubby children in chunky, wheaten-hued hand-knitted jumpers and expensive wellingtons setting up a worm farm in one corner while the jolly, down-to-earth, slightly sunburned owner of acres and acres of spectacular garden, two glasshouses, a conservatory and a gorgeously restored farmhouse plants beans in her expensive wellies, telling us in let's-have-a-cup-of-tea tones dinky little growing tips like lining your bean trench with cardboard boxes. She's so genuine, curse her. And look! Some months have past, and her stakes are triffid-like with vines heavy with luscious-looking vegetables of all description! Watch her pluck the booty and put it into a fabulous cracked plate from Assisi with roosters painted on it! Now watch her steam it in her achingly superb ever-so-slightly ramshackle kitchen with the Aga and the antique oak refectory table, and then sit out (on a vintage woven garden chair) in the twilight upon her terrace overlooking the leafy, fruity, berried, butterflied wonderland that is her world!

Back-to-nature porn of the worst kind. I am a total sucker for it, which just makes me even squirmier. Is there dirt? Are there children oohing at bugs or green shoots or the smell of a crushed herb or two? Men with beards and hail-fellow-well-met voices and pink, work-roughened hands who know how to irrigate a potato bed? Is there maybe a chicken house, or perhaps a goat? Are there many shots of gleaming vegetables and fruits, particularly nestled in soil-encrusted hands or in a battered enamel colander from the fifties? Are there lots of wellingtons? Yes? You have me. My eyes are glassy with desire. I am in the red zone of your target audience. I disgust myself.

That, dear readers, was the disclaimer. Because honest to god, I am getting up a petition to stop them calling those twiggy, insipid, bright green imports from Spain by a name that doesn't belong to them. Come over to my house and have some fat, juicy, grassy, earthy deliciousness from the garden of the guy at the farmer's market on Sundays who really grows apples but just once a year has asparagus. The real thing.


Heidi the Hick said...

Oh, I am so glad you picked up the latest copy of "Smug in the Country (with an insert of Independently Wealthy) Magazine" with my lovely and totally natural family on the cover!


(they never show manure in those magazines which kind of bothers me. And yes. I do read them. Voraciously and guiltily!)

Beth said...

It's the Aga link that makes me weepy with desire, ridiculous as it would be trying to shoehorn one into my wee kitchen. Not to mention my wee budget.

Xtin said...

Beth! Day-um, great to see you! And on the Aga -- word. At some reunion some day someone will ask me how I'm doing with the mortgage and I'll say, "Fine! I currently own 6.2% of my Aga. If I keep up on the payments, I'll be an OWNER by 2025!"

Heidi, I have once seen manure in one of those magazines. And lemmetellya, it was the most styled manure ever.

Tom Bozzo said...

It makes me weepy to think of the gardens at our "old" house, where the asparagus plant was just starting to yield practical quantities when we left. Even the farmer's market stuff loses a little to the just-snapped-off-5-minutes-ago. We had a raspberry patch, too -- red gold! (Too much shade at the "new" house for most veggies, darnit.) Sniff.

Dunno about the Aga, though -- at the risk of losing foodie cred, the fuel consumption of the beast is shocking.

Xtin said...

Ooooh home-grown asparagus. I cannot even imagine such riches. And FTR, I don't think you lose any foodie cred by eyebrow-raising at the Aga. I think you probably win some, actually. Too many Agas looking shiny and expensive and never having a close relationship with anything containing a calorie, if'n y'know what I mean.

Scrivener said...

When we were in the southwest for a summer many years ago, we walked out into the field, snapped off asparagus, and immediately cooked and ate it. Prior to that, I'd never really liked the stuff.

I do love some slow-food, organic, fresh produce, it's true, but to be honest as a kid I never had vegetabled of any sort that weren't from a can, so even "Sad, wilted, flavourless, airfreighted out-of-season" veggies are pretty damned good to me. I know, I've totally blown my foodie cred now.

In any case, good to see you round these parts again. Many happy returns.