Sunday, October 19, 2008

That snaky Armenian cucumber!

Strolling by the Hmong family stand (Sunny Farm) at the Noe Valley Farmers market some Saturdays ago, I heard a woman rapture, "Are those Armenian cucumbers?!" The boyish purveyor of produce nodded, and, looking satisfied, she walked away without buying or even examining a single one. My weird veg antennae twangled violently in the direction of these slender, moon-pale cucumbers, which, I was told, are prized for being sweeter and having less seeds than their chunky, forest-hued cousins. (Yes, twangled is a made-up word, but you knew what motion I meant, right?)

Further research told me that these "cucumbers" are actually melons, also known as snake cucumbers or snake melons," and sometimes simply called uri. The Armenian connection has been harder to pin down, but Irina Petrosian and David Underwood trace its etymology back to Armenian immigrants who grew these cuke-ish melons after arriving in the U.S. in their book Armenian Food. Apparently, it's easier to find Armenian cucumbers in the states than in Armenia.

My delicately curved, burpless uri ("burpless" is greens-speak for "it doesn't give you gas," tee hee), fit right in as a sea cucumber eel at the bottom of my kitchen-wall seascape. It soon became restless, however, and cried out for the steely caress of my Global chef's knife.

A flurry of masterful slices worthy of Yan Can Cook (hint: smiling and going "mmm" while you chop increases your chopping velocity) resulted in the glorious pile you see below:

I put some in a salad and laid the rest in a bowl for grazing while walking past my kitchen counter. The slices were crisp and slightly sweet and did not last long in the bowl.

One last side note: I have been to the gourmet sandwich taco truck twice now but have not had the stamina to wait out the long, long line to actually get my hands on one. In my defense, I've been feeling like a mealy tomato lately due to a particularly virulent cold that has kept me confined to the couch, watching Rushmore for the 20th time while not going to people's birthday dance parties. I hope to meet the King Trumpet sandwich very soon...


Karen said...

Hey, next time you come by the truck, let me know you're there. I didn't see you last time, and I'd like to say hi.
In any case, I hope you don't give up entirely. We think the line might diminish as the weather cools down. Last week I was out there all night in a t-shirt, but I doubt I can get away with it this week.

Katrina D. said...

I will I will! And I did remark to Karla how adorable and welcoming you looked taking orders.