Not one but TWO sugar beets were sighted today, outside of Gårdstånga on E22 heading toward Lund. Fall is officially here. It's the annual I-Saw-a-Sugar-Beet-on-the-Side-of-the-Ro
New favorite veggie-wobble: KOHLRABI. Like George Martin, this one is all my brother's fault. Have you ever had a kohlrabi? I bet you have, but you didn't know it. Sometimes they're the mysterious white crispy veggies in frozen wok mixes or the pale thin strips of veggies mixed in with the red peppers and julienned carrots in the vinaigrette vegetable jar. They look forbiddingly strange in the grocery store if you don't know what to do with them, much like that entire endcap of "exotic" fruits from the tropics that sit in piles of psychedelic pinks and oranges with star shapes or fuzz growing all over them.
The nice thing about them, my brother informed me, while expertly peeling and slicing one up last month, is that they are as good raw as they are cooked. I bought one this weekend and ate it right up with my salads and it was so good I bought another one! This one has been cut in half, whereby one half was sautéed with carrots and spinach and served with salmon, and the other half was (a few days later) cooked with chicken and mushrooms and haricots verts with soy sauce and ginger, which turned them a softly coral shade of orange, prompting me to answer Karin's suspicious inquiry at the dinner table with a disarming, "It might be carrots..." and a secret hurrah when she ate them all up with no protest.*
Martin has been asking all kinds of questions of me lately, the kind that I don't know the answer to. This makes me feel alternately exasperated (I know a lot! Ask me about something I DO know, for crying out loud, kid!) and perturbed, and not a bit stupid. Sometimes it is things that I USED to know, but no longer remember (damn rabbits) and sometimes it's stuff that I never knew (what does E=MC2 actually mean, for example. I know what it STANDS for, but I couldn't explain it. Luckily, Anders came to the rescue with an explanation that made it so simple even I could understand). I'm a little tired of answering "I don't know, honey" or "We can look it up when we get home." So much for being an omniscient parental figure. THAT illusion is flying out the window for him pretty quickly these days.
There was a veg-related point to this somewhere. Ah! Martin's question to me today was: What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable? We all pondered it for a bit, but neither Anders and I were really sure of the answer. Martin thought it was that vegetables mainly grow in the ground as single plants, whereas fruit grow on bushes or trees. One idea proffered was that fruit are sweet, while vegetables are not, but tomatoes and avocado are fruit and they're not sweet. I suggested that if you could make an ice cream flavor out of it, it was a fruit.
I kept thinking it had something to do with the seeds, but the more I thought about it, the more I was pretty sure that wasn't quite right. And then I thought that maybe it's just arbitrary, and it turns out that I was right on both counts:
- Custom and tradition dictate how they are used and classified in every day contexts, like the grocery store
- A fruit is a plant ovary/womb, which contains seeds, vegetables are everything else: stems, seeds, leaves, flowers, roots
- Tomatoes are BERRIES
- Peas and beans are vegetables, but peas in a pod are FRUIT
- Broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes are FLOWERS
- Grain, which is the dry part of a cereal grass, is a FRUIT
(Wait...does that make BREAD a FRUIT??)
- Nuts are FRUIT (except for those imposters, peanuts, which are actually a LEGUME
- The Garlic Hotline Number is 1-800-330-5922 for those of you in the States. I would like a reason to have to call the Garlic Hotline.
- If you google "difference between a fruit and a vegetable" you will come up with a mind-boggling 1,930,000 hits. Apparently, Martin is not the only one out there wondering.
How do you feel about veggies? Got any non-mainstream favorites like kohlrabi that I might be missing out on?
*Though there was much sturm und drang about the green beans. argh