Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Lemon Cucumber

Like many of you out there, I grew up after the Industrial Revolution but before the Delicious Revolution. In that awkward phase of human history, which I hope is drawing to a close, there was only one kind of cucumber: The Cucumber.

I grew up in a healthy household, for the time. That meant no soda, but it also meant industrially produced produce. Even though I lived in Florida, where one could potentially eat from the garden every day of the year, we only had access to the same stuff that everyone else in the country was eating. And everyone was eating The Cucumber, which, like the County Paris, is as bland as it is handsome.

Flash forward to a world in the midst of a food revolution, sometimes delicious, sometimes not. The revolution takes many forms, from riots over rising food costs in Haiti to those locally made logs of goat cheese at your neighborhood farmers market. Though the stakes vary, these are opposite sides of the same coin. Both say, in very different ways, that the system we've been relying on is broken, and that it's time to look elsewhere.

We now live in an era in which there are many, many kinds of cucumbers. Or rather we live there/then again. Before The Cucumber was singled out for its ability to survive long truck rides and still arrive looking like a cartoon, there were many cucumbers bred for many different climates and culinary purposes.

For instance, the lemon cucumber, which is not named for its flavor but for its appearance. And though it doesn't taste like a lemon, it does taste about a bajillion times better than The Cucumber. I'm thrilled to see that heirlooms such as these are regaining popularity, and I plan to eat them all.

But wait, you say. Isn't the lemon cucumber just for limp wristed East Coast liberal elitist foodies, bloggers and food bloggers? Isn't the whole Delicious Revolution a bit "unrealistic" as Anthony Bourdain says?

No. While I now have lemon cucumbers like the one pictured at top growing in my garden, I had my first at an immigrant-run farmers market booth in the parking lot of a shopping mall in Springfield, Missouri. Now that's crop diversity.

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