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Half-way, Hoo-ray!

Garth Brown |

I didn't really know what to expect from the home-grown challenge when I embarked last January. I thought I'd hit a low point of variety somewhere along the line in, and in fact have done so here at the half-way point. I didn't know how hard or how easy it would be to subsist on substantially the same thing day and day out. From my appetite's perspective it has not been very difficult. I still like the taste of pork and rutabaga, though I don't ever crave either of them. More difficult is the imposition my limited diet places on Normandy. Given her druthers I'm sure she'd like more variety on the table come dinner-time, but so far she's still gamely soldiering on with me.

I've been contemplating my dependence on rutabaga as a carbohydrate source too. Through most of human history people probably ate in a manner more similar to the way I do now than to the general smorgasbord today's market economy offers up. That is to say, most people ate fruits when they were in season and didn't when they weren't. They depended heavily on a few staples that store well (in cold climates) or produce heavily and consistently in multiple crops per year (warm climates). My dependence on one type of root pushed me to consider palatability as a selective pressure on what crops people choose to grow, not simply yield. Major staples like wheat, potatoes, corn, and rice all have in common a more palatable flavor than brassicas. And I say that as a man who likes a good rutabaga. I still like the way rutabaga tastes, but when push comes to shove, I'd be a little happier if I had more of the four crops I just listed and less of the coles. With flour one can create such a wide array of flavors and textures. I tried deep frying some rutabaga slivers the other day. It was a "success" in that Rowan (my four year-old boy) ate them in that form and he never willingly eats them cooked other ways, but I thought they were mushy and not very good. I guess he just doesn't have enough experience with french fries to know what he missed.

On a positive note, I'm stoked that the rutabagas kept as well as they did. The root cellar has been "too warm" for two months now, and the they've have only lost a bit of quality. They need to go a few more weeks and then I'll have early potatoes, beets, and summer squash. My diet will gradually widen again for the foreseeable future. Hoo-ray!


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