Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Neeps in Space

It is with shameless abandon that I plagiarize the words of our New York WV correspondent, Cardoon O'Chicory, for the title of this post. After digging himself out of a Brooklyn snow bank that he fell into with some naughty fingerling potatoes, Mr. O'Chicory sent me word from The Farm on Adderley, one of the best restaurants I experienced during my New York fall interlude (oh, how I still dream about that acorn squash tart!), of a new-fangled way to pickle turnips, or neeps as they're known over in his native lands in that lucky green region of the British Isles.

This looks like something Awesome Pickle should sniff out. I'm not a big pickler myself, and traditionalists may like to stick with vinegar and the reassuring charm of those Ball mason jars, but the jar pictured above from picklemeister has some interesting innovations that seem to make pickling more user- and less botulism-friendly. The Farm's helpful explanation:

This jar has a "double bubble airlock” which allows the gasses created by fermentation to be released without allowing contaminants inside the jar. Let this sit at room temperature (70-75˚F). There is also an inverted lid lightly weighing down the vegetable so they’re completely submerged in the brine. All this is to ensure a very clean fermentation with no spoilage.... Unlike pickling with vinegar, lacto-fermented vegetables are teeming with beneficial enzymes and retain their vitamins and nutrients. The flavor is tangy, a little yeasty and for turnips this process seems to really bring out their inherent horseradish flavor.

I got overly excited when I first saw the photo because I thought they had discovered a way to power fluorescent light bulbs through the magic of turnips, but then had to downshift a little into the world of practical "science" when I realized that this was not, in fact, a lamp but a pickle jar.

Previous posts on The Farm blog include some other good ideas for what to do with winter turnips, but I must admit I had to suppress an Olympian California eye roll when I read their entry on discovering the concept of food waste composting entitled "Ok We're Officially Hippies Now!" I completely agree with their excitement about being able to separate food waste into a compost bin, but the idea of this practice as being "out there" and the mark of inclusion into an insular granola left makes no sense when the compost is taken away and handled by a professional and when this guy is sounding the battle cry for mandatory citywide composting:

It's true that the San Francisco Bay Area does exist in a very different cultural climate from New York and that progressiveness is relative. And while I know the "hippie" thing was a throwaway joke, the peevish part of me is reminded of the irritation I felt while in New York at what seemed to be a frenzied adoption of the concepts of "organic" and "sustainable" as additional branding distinctions and just another foodie trend without a proportional understanding of what these concepts and practices actually entail or acceptance of what makes them worthy of note beyond merely being more expensive or in fashion (anything outside the capitalist logic of production and consumption being derided as "hippie," it seems).

And here I'm no longer talking about producers or restaurants like The Farm, which I really respect, but am directing this sudden rant toward a general attitude I gleaned from the consumer side--in conversations had and overheard, things read in newspapers and magazines, observing people at farmers' markets and in grocery stores. We will return to our regularly scheduled vegetable revelry in the next post.

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