Monday, April 6, 2009

My Other Kitchen Garden is a Tropical Paradise



My apologies for not posting since last week, but I've been swamped. Literally: I'm visiting family in Florida. Yes, like Mark Bittman, my parents live in Delray.

There are many obvious differences between South Florida, where I grew up, and Maynard, MA where I now live. For instance, when I go swimming in Massachusetts, there's nothing in the water that can kill me. In Florida, there are many things.

The windows of my apartment look out over maple, walnut, and beech, none of which currently have leaves. But as I type this from my mom's porch I see palm trees, strangler figs, live oak, and Spanish moss, all cloaked in undying green.

Besides myself, there are some species that somehow manage to thrive both here and there. Blue jays and squirrels, for instance. I even saw elders in bloom at a nearby wildlife refuge, though they also grow on the pond behind my apartment that so recently was skateable. Our elders won't bloom for weeks, but I'm amazed that one variety of the plant can endure sub-zero temperatures while the other can withstand the constant gawking of sunburnt tourists.

But the greatest divide lies in the kitchen garden. As you know, mine has nothing but a tuft of sorrel and a few garlic sprouts. But my mom's has, in various stages of development...

Mango.



Avocado.



Meyer's lemons.



Lizards.



And the pineapple pictured at top, plus nine more, all grown from sticking the cut-off tops of other pineapples into the dirt. No aspect of life in New England, except being cold, is that easy.

Sadly, despite the drastic differences in locale, supermarkets in both MA and FL are full of the same exact stuff, most of it horrible: hard plums from Chile, flaccid asparagus from Mexico, and tomatoes grown by slave labor.

I dream of a world were regional food is more distinct than just saying hoagie or grinder, and not just for gastronomic reasons (there's also environmental, social, political and spiritual fruits to reap). Thankfully, we're getting closer to it.

Photography Note: You'll also notice a completely different quality of light in these photos than in any I've taken up North. As in the Low Country pics, the light down here is much whiter.

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9 comments:

Margaret said...

I love your writing style and humor! I chanced upon your blog by noticing your comment on a year-old Bittman article on crustless quiche. Love the internet.
And love your ideas! Keep it up :-)

Aaron Kagan said...

Hey, thanks for reading!

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