This summer I’m proud to present an IPB Living exclusive presentation of Picky Eating With Pookie. You see, Gentle Reader, I am a picky eater. For all this talk of veggie gardening and CSA farms, I have long maintained that I don’t really like most vegetables. Tomatoes, potatoes, and onions never really counted as vegetables to me, so they’ve always been on the a-okay list. Lettuce was iffy for a while, but with enough croûtons and dressing it could be made palatable. Thanks to a summer spent in Santa Fe, I discovered beans and peppers should be considered candy, not veggies. Everything else? Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty. I pick the peas out of every pot pie Schnookie makes; I carefully eat around the carrots in soups; I refuse to even go near any dish containing sweet potatoes; I break out in hives when confronted with cooked greens.
A very strange thing happened, though, when I started going stir-crazy for the garden and farm this early-Spring. I started to think about how great a carrot grown from the garden would taste. Now, I’ve never been good at verbalizing what exactly is wrong with the veggies I don’t like, so when called on why I don’t like peas or carrots, I’m usually left spluttering, “Just ‘cuz, okay! Get off my back about the peas and carrots!” So when I started salivating over this mythical carrot, I realized that I could sort of remember what carrots taste like and nowhere in that taste memory was an element I could put my finger on hating. It occurred to me that my inability to explain why I hate vegetables might work in my favor. Maybe my vegetable cortex, or whatever part of the brain determines which nutritious foods I’ll like, is a blank slate. Maybe I could start from scratch. Maybe I could try one of every vegetable that comes from the garden or the farm! Maybe I’d learn to love the foods that are good for me!
Picky Eating With Pookie will document this ambitious re-learning of vegetables. I don’t have high hopes. I suspect I’ll still dislike beets and string beans as much in September as I do now, but dagnabbit, I’m going to give it an honest effort! I will give each and every vegetable a fair shake — with two exceptions. Cooked spinach ain’t happening. Raw baby spinach? Awesome. Cooked, wilted, mineral-y, limp, chewy, stringy spinach will never taste good to me, even if you lobotomized my vegetable cortex. Also, I hate cooked peas. I can verbalize that I dislike their tinny, slimy, smelly, noxious little pea-ish selves. No cooked peas.
Because cooked peas are so vile, I was a little wary of the first Picky-Eating-eligible crop of the season:
As I stared down the barrel of the snap pea, I thought back to earlier this Spring when I daringly tried edamame from the local sushi place, and asparagus from the local farm stand. Both were surprisingly delicious. “Maybe,” I thought, “I’m on a roll!” I reached out for the snap pea Schnookie had picked especially for me. As my shaking fingers closed around it I thought, “Or maybe it’ll taste like a pea! Peas are the devil’s food!” Still, I had made a promise to myself and I wasn’t going to give up before I got started (good thing the first farm crop this year wasn’t cooked spinach). So I ate it.
The taste sensation of eating a just-picked snap pea starts with a very satisfying crisp crunch that led directly into a burst of bright, fresh liquidness. It tasted, well, like a crisp, bright, fresh Summer day. However, if then transitioned into a slightly stringy toothiness that was tinged with more than a little pea-flavor. The aftertaste was just enough eau du pea that I hesitated before taking a second helping. But take a second helping I did. I’m hoping that I can convince myself that the pea aftertaste is the essence of shelling pea pods, which for some strange reason is a chore I think (in concept) I’d enjoy in a down-home, newer-better-life-as-a-gardener way.
I stopped after two pods, but the verdict on snap peas is 3 1/2 stars out of 5. I don’t think I’ll go out of my way to eat a big bowl of them, but should they appear in a dish on my plate, I’d probably eat several. And for a picky eater, sometimes that’s all you can ask. Tune in as the season progresses, as I tackle such vegetables as carrots, beets, string beans, and more!