Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lettuce bring back memories

It's hard not to think of lettuce but as a backdrop for salad, a prop for "the goodies" such as tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, etc. And the lettuce that is picked elsewhere and shipped to where we are shouldn't be expected to be much more than that; the most you can ask of it is to be crisp and bright.

A trip to Provence opened my eyes - yes, even my jaded, Californian I-only-eat-mixed-baby-lettuces eyes - to what a difference it makes when the lettuce comes fresh from the garden only minutes before. We were day hiking near Mount Ventoux and our guides led us up a terraced hill to a stone farmhouse past a corral of goats. As we entered the quaint structure, a peaceful farm woman greeted us and bid us to sit at one of four long, sturdy wooden tables in the great room. She then went into the kitchen and returned bearing only three things: a platter of goat cheeses, from hours old, to aged 3 months; a platter of thinly sliced, salty jambon (ham) and a large shallow wooden bowl of romaine leaves, dressed only with olive oil and a sprinkling of herbs and salt. It was one of my best lunches ever.

The part I remembered most was that the lettuce tasted so ALIVE, that it didn't need a splash of balsamic vinegar to perk it up. The advantage to not using vinegar to dress the salad was that the acid in the vinegar would not ruin the tongue for the light wines we had with lunch. (That is also the reason that many French people serve the salad after the main course, to more fully enjoy the wine with the meal.)

So while the weather is reasonably cool, I grow lettuce in my flower boxes (the photo was taken this morning) where the bunnies can't get to it. I've been just clipping the leaf lettuces as needed for salads, and tearing off a few leafs of romaine for sandwiches and tacos. I'll harvest all of it before I take off for California over Memorial Day, and then plant again the week before Labor Day for the fall crop.

1 comment:

  1. Love the lettuce pix. SOOOOO fresh looking. And I enjoyed your tale about Provence.

    Do you ever plant arugula? Weirdly enough, that grows great out here in Phoenix. Plant seeds and you have seedlings in just a couple days.