Like so many suburbanites before me, I was brought up on canned vegetables and boxed food. My love of a good food led me away from the intersection of soy and corn to the west coast, where local and seasonal are the building blocks of any meal. Since vegetables are a greater indicator of what's to come, I have learned to look not to the skies for signs of spring, but to the ground.
While different friends measure the arrival of spring by the appearance of rhubarb, tulips (daffodils, since they grow in the snow, apparently are for chumps), garlic scapes, morels, a lavender tint in a radish, I am reassured the days will become nicer when I see the baby artichokes, the asparagus and the raab galore. Perhaps I can combine my past and present with a box of Betty Crocker's Raab Helper.
Even though I should feel camaraderie with people who pick crops to indicate the arrival of spring, I have some problems with nettles and fiddleheads. I don't get them. Also don't get fava beans – I was taught long ago that mushrooms were the only food that had less nutrition than it took to gather and prepare them, the 16 hours of labor that go into preparing each pound of favas makes a handful of shiitakes look like a powerbar.
My friend and colleague Mona makes the case for nettles here, it should also be pointed out, she likes her favas. My bookshelf, aka the saucytorium, has so little information on nettles and fiddleheads that I feel fairly certain that it's not just me who doesn't care for these things, but perhaps it's an east coast bias.
I'll head down to the Market Saturday, the weather promises sun and with a little warmth the optimism that artichokes and asparagus will be there for the taking. We'll see