Thursday, February 19, 2009

But Can You Do The Salad In Latin?

I came to the conclusion today that I am going to need to carry the notebook that I take notes in with me even more places than the library and bookstore (to say nothing of leaving it on my desk next to my computers).  While at work I remembered two things I learned from an article I read the other day (on my computer), but was way too tired to write down (even on my computer!).  So I wrote the information I will be using in todays post on a piece of two by four with a carpenters pencil.  Hmm... I thought I promised myself a few years ago I would never take notes again on a two by four.  My friends who have worked with me would be able to clear up whether that's a tad bit of revisionist history.  Luckily, very few of them read this blog.  And the ones that do are far, far to loyal.
So the thing I had to write on a two by four, making my buddy Ron think I was a nut case, was concerning an article I read on the Purdue extension website, or one of the extension websites, in any case.  The article was written by a guy in the nineteen-forties (which I didn't realize till I looked at the websites fine print) and concerned the history of our most popular vegetables.  One of my favorite subjects actually.  So I was reading, vegetable by vegetable, from Broccoli to Watermelon (they grow wild in Africa, wow!) and right away I couldn't believe my eyes.  It turns out that I have been wrong on the history of broccoli.  I had thought it was developed in the nineteenth century (which I thought an amazingly recent occurence) due to a history of vegetables I read four years ago.  But, no.  It was developed in Italy, in the 1600's, from, like all Brassica, a wild version of Kale.  Interestingly, the article pointed out a fact that I frequently forget which is that Broccoli Rabe is actually a version of the same plant that Canola oil comes from. Also a member of Brassica, or Cruciferae (the old name, that frustrated some because of its reference to the crucifix shaped flowers common to the genus), or if your a real fan of plain English, the Cabbage Family).    Canadians actually call it canola.  
The 1940's article's deadpan style of writing is enormous fun to read.  I will put a link up to it in a future post.
I spent too many hours after work today planning my garden (I found out lettuce germinates in soil as long as the soil is at least 35 degrees.  Can you believe anything can germinate at that temperature?  So needless to say I am going to be planting mesclun, and lettuce in the next few weeks.  My friends Mike and Luanne have a great technique in their insanely cool garden, and yeah, I think I'll probably slavishly copy their techniques.)  So now I am blogging a little later than I would like, 'cus I have to get up early in the morning to swim before I have breakfast with my friend, then go to work by eight AM.  And I love sleep, so go figure.  But the garden I will be following on this Blog is going to be great. 
One example of the style of the article is where it is discussing Jerusalem Artichoke:  "The Jerusalem Artichoke is neither from Jerusalem, nor an Artichoke."  I am not even sure the author meant to do anything other than speak the plain truth, but man, that made me laugh.  Of course those of us familiar with such things know that a Jerusalem Artichoke is a tuber of a species of Sunflower.  And it's delicious cooked, or pickled.    It is also native to America, which for some reason makes me vaguely patriotic, in a natural history sort of way.  Not very rational, but neither is the Sean Hannity variety of patriotism.  I saw a new book out by that ding dong who wrote (or annotated, rather) The Book of Virtues.  I don't remember his name, and I don't remember the books name, but in any case it's theme is patriotism.  Really makes me wonder, what, is this guy living back in 2002, or something?  I am patriotic.  And curious about this countries history.  Call me crazy, but flaggy, stylized, for profit patriotism is disgusting regardless of its red, white and blue makeup.  Though, I dearly love that country song that goes, "There's a star spangled banner, waving glory."  That's the genius of music.  It's rhetoric is so transcended by spirit, that it's practically beside the point.
The last thing that I wanted to share about the article called, I think, "Our Vegetable Travelers", was that the author mentioned in the article that the common description "truck farm" has nothing to do with the vehicle we call a truck.  I found this flabbergasting, as the image of a truck has always coincided with the words "truck farm" when I encounter them, or use them.  But, it turns out, that the use of the work "truck" in the case of  "truck farm" is apropos of its meaning when used as the noun roughly synonymous with "archaic barter" or "association".  As in, "I have no truck with scum like that."  This is due to the fact that a "truck farm" was long a place of bartering for your greengroceries.  I certainly never would have guessed this etymological fact were it not for that ancient National Geographical article, "Our Vegetable Travelers".  The internet.  Just amazing.
Well, I gotta go to bed.  Egg Timer Rules.

Andy Coffey

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