May is the time of the year when, despite the relentless dry weather, vegetables start erupting from the garden faster than we can figure what to do with them. And we haven’t even reached Tomatomania yet, which starts around June.
|Cornucopias are overrated.|
It’s a problem easily avoidable, except for people like Felix and me: The solution is better planning and self-control which neither one of us seem to be good at.
Around December, seed companies in the U.S. such as Burpee, send out pornographic catalogs with hundreds of perfectly round, shiny and luscious vegetables. Lust devours my mind. Every vegetable, even a plain cucumber, looks far better than anything we can buy here. Gimme, gimme.
MEGA, the largest grocery store in San Miguel, only seems to stock the same varieties of potatoes, tomatoes and grapefruits year-round: Mexican Same-Old, Same-Old.
Yet you crave shiny Black Krim Tomatoes and thick cucumbers, and some of those vegetables Alice Waters casually drops in her recipes, that I’ve never heard of, much less held in my hands. Wild amaranth greens? Florence fennel? Celery roots? Winter squash?
So I try to bridge the gap between fantasy and reality by ordering all sorts of seeds—far too many— by the start of February, which Félix dutifully germinates indoors and sets out on the raised beds by the beginning of April.
The raised beds, which Félix has been turning over and nurturing with compost, all watered with an automatic drip-irrigation system, provide the proverbial fertile ground. A chain-reaction of vegetables ensues.
Gardening guides tell you thin out and toss the weaker seedlings but Félix, who grew up in an impoverished household, won’t countenance such waste. He saves them all.
That brings us to now, when Félix triumphantly brings in beets the size of tennis balls, a non-stop supply of radishes, carrots of various sizes, and generally more stuff than we know what to do with. Where’s Alice?
Félix doesn’t help alleviate the vegetable glut by taking some home. His diet is tortilla-centric: If it doesn’t involve tortillas, he doesn’t want it. Green salads are a bizarre Gringo fetish.
It isn’t all bad news, though. I have come to like a variety of greens I would never have touched before, such as Swiss Chard, cauliflower and spinach. Beets remain a taste I haven’t quite yet acquired. Brussels Sprouts is the handiwork of the devil, and so is okra.
|Martha’s Swiss Chard galette.|
Also, Stew has broadened his culinary palette to accommodate the flood of vegetables. Soups are tasty, keep well and best of all, consume large quantities of surplus vegetables.
He even tried a Swiss Chard and ricotta galette he saw Martha Stewart making on TV. It was great.
Now, a bunch of beets await Stew’s touch on the kitchen counter. Any recipes for Ukrainian beet borscht out there? Stew says he’s made it and it’s not hard. Best of all, he says, it uses lots of beets.