Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Whooo... are... you?": Breaking bread with a dead little friend

Few things make me feel so productive, so 19th-century pioneer woman, as when I'm eating my own recipes off of my own pottery. I can look down at the table and think, "Yup, I made everything you see here. Everything!"

Maybe it's a Stewart thing, or maybe Martha and I really are related. I don't know, but at times, I'm almost tempted to take up welding so I can make my own silverware. Or glass blowing. Or heck, even wood shop--I'll make the table itself.

And if I could grow my own produce, that would be really something. But alas, New York can only be so accommodating. Good thing we have several excellent farmers' markets for all the fresh, local greens we can handle.

On a recent farmers'
market trip, I noticed--across a crowded stall, with the love theme to West Side Story softly playing--the bok choy looking fresh and tasty. I'd always dismissed bok choy as a stir fry veggie in the past, and never really gave it a chance. (I like my veggies raw.) But, seriously, what a totally boss-looking veg it is. With that light green stalk and those hearty dark green leaves. I was charmed to the gills.

So, like the wanton hussy that I am, I brought the bok choy home with me immediately, eager to get things started.

I put together a marvelous raw bok choy salad. Very simple too. The details:
Chop several bundles (bunches? stocks? heads? herds? murders?) of bok choy--five huge ones if they're in season, or 15 late-September dinky ones. For the dressing, whirl up equal parts (I used 1/4 cp each) olive oil, quality soy sauce, and about 3-4 cloves garlic. Mix well, serve on your own handmade pottery--yes, yes, I am a show off--and enjoy.

One very important detail: wash the bok choy thoroughly. I had hurried through this step, and realized so when I reached the bottom of my dish. Laying there, drowned in my garlic marinade, was an--admittedly very lovely--revolting, and quite dead caterpillar.

I my first reaction was a series of little gags, like a cat with a hairball caught in its throat. So nasty! Then I mused on all the worse things that might have happened.

1. Finding a half-eaten caterpillar at the bottom of the dish

2. Taking a hearty bite into something squishy and distasteful. Extracting it to find a well-chewed-but-still-recognizable caterpillar.

3. Finding several caterpillars

I don't know whether to include "Actually swallowing a caterpillar and never realizing it" on the list. I'm not convinced that a) that's worse and b) that doesn't already happen to me on a regular basis.

Oddly enough, this episode didn't turn me off of bok choy. On the contrary, if those tasty little things are endorsed by the caterpillar, who is nature's leading connoisseur of leafy greens, then they must be good.

(By the way, the bases of bok choy look like green roses when you cut the stalks off. Ah bok choy, the smarmiest gigolo in the garden.)


Cami said...

OH my gosh. That caterpillar. that is serious disgust. Wow. But the food looked lovely beforehand!

I, too, long to make every single thing I own. I'd LOVE to make a table.

Holly said...


But I'm interested to know more about this Bok Choi. The rose-shaped base would look smart at many a church function.