4.10.2007

fiddles and morels and ramps, oh my

for most food-obsessed people - especially in New York - their first spring as a foodie is an incredibly magical experience. it's like being handed the golden key to the secret club: one week you've never even heard of a fiddlehead fern, and the next week - one wikipedia-by-way-of-the-babbo-menu jaunt later - your awareness of the crunchy, slightly sour, spiral-shaped plant gives you entree into this amazing world. you run around saying "holy crap! i am one of THEM! i am the girl who buys the obscure produce!" you revel in your vegetable-awareness and you're so into your foodie-ness, buying mud-covered fiddleheads by the boatload ("it washes right off," you'll say - stirring the sautee pan with one hand and chicly holding a glass of flinty pinot gris in the other. "and what stays on adds depth. i believe in eating a little dirt, you know.") and shelling out half a week's pay for a bag of precious fresh morel mushrooms to sautee in butter (plugra sets you back another half-day) and glazing baby ramps* to wilt languidly on the side of a plate, waiting to knock your socks off with their mild garlicky bite.

and then your next spring as a foodie is pretty great. you get to impress your friends by predicting the menu:

*checks watch* oh it's april? i'm sure we'll see asparagus capuccino and morel mashed potatoes and probably some ramps or fiddleheads on the side.

you call them "fiddleheads," now, not "fiddlehead ferns." it's like when men from Queens refer to Robert DeNiro as "Bobby." and your friends, who are not yet on the foodie bandwagon, are totally impressed: "you are like a fucking farmer, man. how do you know!?" you shrug. you're a foodie. you know this stuff. you might preen a little, but a real foodie doesn't let it show.

but then the earth does that going-around-the-sun thing one more time, and it's the NEXT spring, and one of the Toms (Colicchio? Valenti?) is waxing poetic in New York magazine or in the Times food section about the fresh earthy taste of the fiddlehead or the ramp or whatever, or gushing orgasmically about the tiniest, most slender baby asparagus that he delicately hand-selected from the Union Square greenmarket (you're over that, you go to Whole Foods now, at a civilized hour like 4pm) and you stare at your magazine and say, out loud, to Nature: "fuck it. please invent a new vegetable. i am tired of ramps, asparagus, morels, and fiddleheads."

anyway, it is April again. asparagus and morels and fiddleheads and ramps are everywhere, and i've been (technically) a foodie for going on my eighth year. yawn. wake me when it's tomato season.


*when introduced to the notion of a baby ramp, my boyfriend said he imagined herds of inclined planes roaming across the african savannah, hunting herds of spheres. the noble wild ramp! and its babies!

11 comments:

Marcin said...

DO YOU SEE THIS HELEN?? IT'S THE WORLD'S TINIEST FIDDLE PLAYING JUST FOR YOU. GOT ME??

marc said...

My dad puts lamb chops in the broiler with a pinch of lawreys. I eat them, and love them, and sigh because my pedestrian mouth lacks the depth of haughty New Yorkers who maybe sum 15 years ago was still looking forward to a chicken mcnugget.

Marcin said...

WOAH, BACK UP THERE "MARC!" I HOPE YOU'RE NOT SASSING HELEN! THAT WOULD BE OUT OF ORDER.

helen said...

thank you for your valuable contributions, marcin.

helen said...

and marc, dearest, a chicken nugget is - and always will be - my first true food-related love. mm.

ploop said...

I'm going long on salsify becoming the next "you mean you haven't tried it darling - oh you must".

It's hard to grow, hugely expensive, and tastes like a cross between oysters and asparagus. It used to be very big in Victorian england and virtually no-one stocks it. Making it perfect for these tosspots to pontificate over.

Start the campaign now. here.

Alexis said...

chicken nuggets and chocolate are 2 of the hardest things to digest. says my local news. important things happen here. i swear.

Neil said...

so last night, about 20 minutes after reading this, i open up some craparific not-quite-foodie book entitled "wife of a chef" about some whiny woman whose husband runs a restaurant in connecticut. "blah, blah, blah he gets all the attention. blah, blah, blah he wouldn't be anything without me." then she starts bitching about over-aggressive foodies, and writes something along the lines of, i kid you not, "and then they get all aflutter about their damn fiddlehead ferns." like, whoa. cosmic, or karmic, or something.

Marcin said...

Thank you Helen, I am glad that you value my contributions. They were made possible by my expensive internet education - I've been browsing the internet for ten years now.

Captain Smack said...

I must be a foodtard. I like pizza. Asparagus makes your pee smell weird.

That's all I'm able to contribute.

Alexis said...

not exactly foodie material:
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/newfood/