Name That Food

I've started naming my food.

Sunday morning I didn't buy tomatoes, I bought a Pink Lady and a Tangerine tomato. Last week I bought two Cherokee and one Pineapple tomato.

The farmers market has done this to me. Food is no longer generic. It's not one of three varieties bred to withstand a summer road trip from farm to grocer to table.

Now it's Rainbow and Purple Haze carrots. It's Cheddar Cheese or Purple cauliflower. Danish leeks, Freckles lettuce, Cranberry beans. Food grown naturally to be eaten close to home.

I know the names of hundreds of flowers, plants I would never stick in my mouth, but the food I've eaten has been as generic as Kleenex. I've been more particular about the brand of toilet tissue I selected than the variety of potatoes I served.

Now I ask, "What kind of onion is this?" I often forget but eventually the name will adhere.

And it's not only the poetry of the names that calls to me but the fact that there are so many names. Names that call to the diversity of the seeds, to the places they originated, the people that grew them.

Grocery stores are limited by industrial agriculture that have foresaken diversity for profit. That's their job. But I'm no longer buying it. A tomato is no longer cherry, beefsteak or roma. It's Brandywine, Zebra, Early Girl.

Calling food by it's name is my contribution to maintaining diversity in the food system. As soon as the diversity of foods are forgotten so is our ability to choose. And our choices are so delicious I don't want to loose a single one of them.

15 comments:

Bobbi said...

Not sure about this one - is it some type of mushroom?

Olivia said...

Katrina,
I just love you. You are the best.
Olivia

PS stick with rugs...I returned the kitties!

Green Bean said...

Beautiful point. I'm headed to the farmers' market this morning. I don't often ask varieties but I will because you are right. It is so much more interesting that way.

Donna said...

Brandywine! That's it! I've been trying for the last couple weeks to remember the name of the incredible variety of tomato I tasted last summer. Thank you!

Melissa said...

I was actually feeling a little dense just last week. I mean, we got ANOTHER type of eggplant in the CSA box...who knew there was more than "big" and "small"? It's really fun experimenting with them though. It's a miracle in some ways that this much food variety has survived this long if you consider what is available for purchase in the big stores, where most people shop.

Lucy said...

Food with sweet names, funny names, clever names...isn't diversity just astounding?

I'm constantly amazed by the inventivness of Mother Nature and he people who want her to stay her complex, amazing self.

Those 'shrooms look like pretty pink fans.

kale for sale said...

bobbi - You got it. It's a pink mushroom. I didn't buy them but they were beautiful.

olivia - I love you too. I'm sure the kittens will find their next perfect home.

green bean - And even if you forget the varieties your kids will remember. Forever.

donna - Your welcome. Tomatoes have such great variety names. Like apples.

melissa - You're right. It is a miracle.

And eggplants, you left out my favorite variety, the "medium".

lucy - We can't improve on Ms. Mother Nature can we. She's a work of art.

Chile said...

The CSA has done that to me, too. I never knew there were so many kinds of radishes.

Audrey said...

Great post. The names are a new language at least for me. And all the words have their own meaning. I love that.

Going Crunchy said...

Oh, love this!

I fell in love with "Pink Lady" apples this year. Like a champagne taste in a fruit.

kale for sale said...

chile - Okay. I'll have to check out radish names. I know rainbow which might not be real and french breakfast. Nothing too poetic but I'm up for being surprised. And for finding a spicy variety.

audrey - It seems like an endless language too because there are so many varieites and colors and then different people call things by different names or different places and cultures have different names for the same things. I love it too.

going crunchy - Thanks. I love the champagney apples too. They have such fabulous names. Last year I noticed the kids latched on to the names and they wanted nothing but pink lady or pink pearl (I think that's what they were called) apples. Months later they surprised me with the exact names. They are smart little sponges.

Chile said...

Katrina, these are some of the varieties we've had at our CSA:

- Black Spanish Radish (A huge turnip-shaped thing with black skin and pure white flesh. Very strong - good for kimchi.)
- Cherry Bells
- Daikon - I got hooked on daikon kimchi last year, using the leaves, too.
- Easter Egg
- French Breakfast

It seems like there were more, but I may be getting confused with the small salad turnips, including hakurei, red, and Valentine - all varieties that were sweet and crunchy.

kale for sale said...

chile - You're awesome. Thank you for the names. I love the Black Spanish and Valentine the best.

I'm going to check out your kimchi experience as I have it in the back of my mind to make some after having bibimbop (sp?) recently.

Chile said...

Oh, girl, you're makin' me drool. I looove BiBimBap! It's so easy to have Korean restaurants make it vegan. I even picked up a Korean cookbook, planning to make it myself, but it calls for unfamiliar ingredients I just haven't gotten around to tracking down in the Asian markets (or figuring out how to substitute). I'm pretty sure I found the radish kimchi recipe in that book, though, although it didn't call for black Spanish radish.

I could easily live on Asian food. In fact, I just had breakfast: warm rice with cold Japanese pickled cucumber. Yeah, I'm weird. I might have pancakes for lunch. ;-)

TQ said...

I agree with Olivia.