The road to perfect is paved with the vegetables, artisanal cheeses and meats found at the Union Square Greenmarket on a Saturday. I was geared up for a smooth ride this weekend, only to find my way peppered with potholes and smeared with roadkill.
This Saturday was particularly gorgeous, 70 degrees, sunny and breezy. I had already received an impromptu lesson on grass-fed Buffalo meat, gathered herbs to dry for the winter, and had my first taste of the pineappley "husk tomato", or ground cherry. This could have been another enchanted weekend on the road to culinary enlightenment, but I was thrown off course by a menacing pothole.
Earlier this summer, I chopped up a purple carrot for an Asian chicken salad, and was pleasantly surprised by its radish-like kick. I returned to the same farmer, but all the subsequent plum colored roots have just been carrot-flavored carrots. I finally decided to ask the youthful biodynamic bohemians, "What was up with the radish flavored carrot?" I wanted them to be enthused that I had noticed the subtle difference. Instead, they denied its existence. One said I was probably eating a radish. The other simply snapped, "Maybe you're wrong." "What did you just say?" I had to clarify. Whatever happened to the customer is always right? If I say your carrot tasted like a turkey leg, you say, "Really? That's so interesting." I was enraged by their dismissive tone. I fumed and walked away, swearing off the sweetness of their delicate micro-greens forever. I left a voicemail for Jordan, "You remember that purple carrot. It tasted like a radish, didn't it? It really WAS a purple carrot. I'm not crazy. Call me back." Hmph.
Potholes are sneaky. How often are we walking along in our bliss, when out of nowhere we slam into a comment or a person that abruptly deflates us? All it takes is one crappy encounter, and we are set off our path. Other times the road is littered with misfortune. Bushels of heirloom tomatoes worked their magic, distracting me from grumblings of self-pity, when I turned the corner and walked straight into my ex.
"Oh my. Look who it is. How are you?"
"Pretty well. How about you?"
"Things are alright."
"Good. That's good. I'm happy for you."
"So, yeah. uh...what have you been doing with yourself?"
"Do you want to get a coffee or something?"
"Oh...sorry, I can't right now. I've got perishables."
Then, I showed him my steak. It was a rib eye, or Delmonico steak, a juicy tender cut from the rib of a Bison. I didn't mean to rub it in, but there it was, vacuum-wrapped meat, evidence that I'd moved on. I didn't set out to hurt any feelings. As I walked on, I looked back and waved. He grinned and waved back, a splayed carcass, roadkill.
These are the roads we all travel, hopefully heading in the right direction. Inevitably, we find our journey punctuated by little annoyances and big mistakes. We try to see them for what they are, distractions along the way, and keep moving.
photo credit: Andrea J. Walker "Purple Haze" carrots