I read an article a while ago about how we, modern citizens, no longer have a bond with our food. That we don’t understand where it comes from, and that we have (too) little appreciation for its real value. One of the examples given in the article was that school children these days don’t know that milk comes from a cow. They think it comes from a factory, that it’s man made, like coke, or 7up. Ha, little suckers! I bet they’d think twice about drinking milk if they knew it comes from a cow’s boob.
But I can’t judge. I started thinking of products of which I couldn’t tell you the origin, and I thought of way too many to be a smug bastard about this. I got quite curious, so I gave it a google and I came upon a few surprises.
Who knew, for instance, that peanuts grew underground! (If you did, leave me a comment.) Apparently the pods grow on the plant for a while, after which the branch on which the pod is growing increases in length, until the pod touches the ground. It then forces its way into the soil, to grow into a full and proper monkey nut there. Who would have thought that! Also, how does a plant think of pushing its own fruits underground? Man, the things plants come up with! This really amazes and excites me, and I now feel even more sad for people with a peanut allergy. I’m going to eat more peanuts now that I know this!
Another product of amazing and unexpected origin is the Brussels sprout. They look like tiny wee cabbages, so I thought that maybe they grew in the same way, i.e. in long rows, right in the soil. Right? They don’t. They grow on sticks! Google it, it’s amazing. Brussels sprouts grow in rows on thick sticks, making them look like medieval weaponry. I am so impressed.
And then there’s peas:
I recently learned about the origins of peas. Not because I googled it, but because I spotted them in my local veggie shop. I didn’t even recognise them, I only realised they were peas because I read the sign. “ Piselli, 2,50/kg”. They looked pretty much like sugar snaps, but a bit bigger. I knew peas had to be the seeds of some kind of larger bean, but I had never seen them in real life, much less cooked with them. About time to give it a shot, then! Fresh peas are definitely a lot nicer than frozen peas from a bag. It takes a while to get them all out, and if you’re not much into cooking, you’ll probably find this way too much hassle. Use frozen ones, then. If you quite enjoy cooking, or even gardening or just messing about with food, you might find it quite an enjoyable wee chore.
One of the many things you can do with fresh peas, is make risotto. Slice up a few spring onions, keep the green apart. Take one clove of garlic, peel it, and slice it in half. Chuck the peas and all the white of the spring onions in a pan. Get any further instructions you may need on making risotto right here. When you’re almost finished, and you’re stirring in the butter and parmesan, also stir in some mozzarella, about half a ball in small dice, and the green of the spring onions that you kept on the side.
That one’s a freebee. Now for the real recipe. Pasta with spring greens, for about two people.
– two handfuls of fresh peas
– two spring onions
– a couple of tomatoes
– one stick of celery, plus the leaves
– about 50g soft goat’s cheese of some description
– enough pasta
Boil the pasta in enough water with enough salt. Chop up the spring onions, keeping the green apart, and the celery, keeping the leaves apart. Gently fry them and the peas in some oil. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes into wedges and add them to the onion and celery. Once the pasta’s done, drain and chuck in with the vegetables. Take off the fire, stir in the goats cheese, melting it, and the top the lot with the green of the spring onions and the chopped celery leaves.