Also known as..."Oh mon Dieu, what on earth are they are selling us at the supermarket?"
Behold Exhibition A, above. Now...let's see if you can guess which of these tomatoes was bought - in season no less - and which one was grown in our garden...Exactly.
Yes, our little garden specimen is not bright red (a good thing as it is a noire de Crimée or a "black" heirloom tomato), it is kind of scrappy looking and has some stretch marks along the top...but what about on the inside? Just to be sure, let's try the specimen on the right. Hmmm, a distinct flavor of...watery...air?
Above are the basics of what we are growing in our garden, along with snappy salads, a failed attempt at resuscitating moved wild strawberries, not so hot red peppers and radishes that pack lightning heat. We are learning that not everything grows perfectly in this silty soil of Provence but if they do, well then look out - it is like tiger-taming.
When there has been a "first" harvest of something, Remi and I would celebrate the moment by having a dégustation and then stare it each other, wide-eyed with wonder while slowly savoring each bite. Then we would blurt out, every single time: "But this doesn't taste anything at all like what we have been eating! C'est fou! Not even close!"
The tomatoes burst in our mouths like the friendliest version of the sun imaginable (and will get their own post with recettes next week), the zucchini is so dense that it could pass for steak, our neighbors shallots are smoky not stinging, the cucumbers have a sweet perfume and aren't watery in the least, the purple eggplants have made a convert out of Remi as they aren't even remotely bitter, let alone the white eggplants which make us feel like we are dining out at a Michelin one-star and the potatoes which demand to be the star of the show, never again to be relegated to the role of lumpy side-dish.
Those of you that grow vegetables have most likely stopped reading by now. You know all of this and secretly shake your heads at the rest of us poor fools. But what about those of you who have never had a garden?
Like...us? This is our first attempt at gardening ever. We were uncertain as we have killed many a houseplant in our years together but, as I have mentioned, there is a lovely little community of fellow gardeners who kindly keep us on track. And truly, as the rental of the land is only 20 Euros for the entire year, we thought, "What the hay, let's give it a go." Certainly, it is a lot of work but of the kind that wipes away any troubling worries in the process and the bounty just keeps on coming. We are hooked.
And we are also convinced that it is wonderful for our health too. Because even if you can afford to buy organic at Whole Foods or any big producer, many grow their goods with hothouse techniques - yep, even here in France, land of non-genetically modified, non-hormone injected and non-cloned foods (don't even get me started on the recent lobbyist bought insanities in the House of Representatives). But here is my question: while the jury is still out regarding whether heating foods in plastic can cause cancerogens in the body - isn't food grown under plastic basically subjugated to the same effect? Or worse? If anyone out there knows the answer to that question, please speak up. But the theory seems plausible to me...
...as does reaping all of the "extra" benefits of growing your own. Such as discovering that you magically happen to have five fleurs des courgettes that have blossomed on the same evening and that if you stuff them with ricotta then bake them with a thin paint of egg yolk and a sprinkling of bread crumbs, you automatically have at hand the perfect apéro item for two.
It's enough to start me off on the path of rediscovery all over again...