The Alleged Farm News – 28 August, 2014

This Weeks Share: Beans, Cabbage, Cilantro, Fennel, Eggplant,
Garlic, Lettuce, Onions, Peppers, Newmex hot pepper, Squash, Cherry tomatoes, Tomatoes


Four years ago we moved Sam into his freshman double at the school I had gone to. It felt a little unsettling. And not because we were going to drive away and leave our kid behind. He wanted to be there, and other than the usual sorts of worries I was fine with that. I just wasn’t sure if I should be there. Looking at all the confident, well tailored adults around me dropping off their children, I had the feeling I didn’t really fit in in this little world of unquestioned advantage. It reminded me uncomfortably of how I often felt as a student there, a feeling I was not altogether keen to relive.

This Monday we moved Sam into his freshman double at the school I had gone to. It felt a little hot. Mostly because it was hot and we had to carry Sam’s stuff up to the fourth floor. I may have encountered a tinge of nostalgia too, but no teenage angst. It is not that in this setting I felt particularly like I belonged there amongst the throng of other sweaty parents. It is more that it was just a throng of sweaty parents, a mishmash of looks and behaviors and beliefs and attitudes. Belonging to it was not a relevant idea. There was nothing to belong to.

To be fair, the difference is partly just the difference between high school and college. The college kids are older, more defined, the parents less necessary–to the kids and the institution. They both have a financial interest in us, but otherwise don’t particularly need us or expect to see us around much. And in part I am just used to dropping Sam off, and he to being dropped off. We’re almost blasé about the whole experience by now, which is not conducive to feelings of angst.

But that only explains part of it. Prep school has a single dominant culture (still to a large extent the dominant culture in this country) that’s hard to miss when you aren’t part of it–and apparently nearly invisible when you are. It’s a monoculture. And like a vast field of cabbage, the neat rows of lush, dense heads stretching off to the horizon, there’s something beautiful and impressive about it. But when those cabbages look around, all they see are other cabbages, and that gives them a strange view of the world. The carrot that pops up in their midst, even if it is not weeded out, is going to feel a bit out of place. What good is a carrot in a world of cabbages?

College is a highly diversified, somewhat messy, slightly unkempt growing environment. Kind of like The Alleged Farm. The cabbages have to share space with all manner of crops, with roots and fruits and things they have never seen before, and sometimes they just have to make their own way because they could be sitting around for ages waiting for attention. There’s only so much to go around and everyone gets a little. You have to learn to make the best of what’s around you, thrive on your own, which can be hard. But there’s so much around you, so many things to take advantage of, so many things to cooperate with. It is tough, but it’s fair and it’s far healthier than that pristine, unnatural cabbage field.


Vegetable notes: Sometimes we have to work hard to find enough crops to fill the box. And sometimes we have more than we can possibly fit in the box. The end of August is usually one of the more than fits times, and this end of August has easily met that standard. I did not even list all the available crops on the week’s picking list that I put up in the packing room this Monday, and we still had to take off a few to come up with a share we could actually pack. And then while we were picking the crops that made the list we had a hard time stopping ourselves from harvesting too much. We only went part way down two rows of peppers and ended up with twice as many as we had planned on. And we were sorely tempted to keep going. It’s not easy to leave all those other ripe peppers out there even when you know that you could not get them all in the box unless you start pureeing the shares before packing them. We generally prefer to leave the pureeing to you. Not that I would recommend pureeing all the vegetables in this week’s share. The beans, for instance, are far better steamed until barely tender and sprinkled with a good amount of salt (and butter and crushed garlic if want). And the cabbage might be better raw, sliced finely with the fennel and an onion, tossed with a light, lemony dressing. And the cherry tomatoes are best just eaten straight. But you might consider pureeing the (roasted and peeled) peppers with garlic, cilantro, some onion, olive oil, a tomato, a good amount of salt and pepper and a splash of sherry vinegar. You could leave it as is and use it as a sauce or thicken it a bit with bread crumbs and perhaps some walnuts and use it as a dip or thin it out with a little chicken stock to make a soup (good hot or cold).