Thursday, May 29, 2008

Your vegetables aren't that weird

"I read through weird vegetables.... I like reading your entries. You guys write about vegetables that i don't find very weird..."

Ouch. That's the sting of gloves being smacked across our collective blog face as guerrilla vegetarian chef Leif Hedendal throws down the gauntlet.

To be fair, that last sentence ends, "but i have such a skewed sense of produce," so he admits that his métier brings him into closer contact with a whole variety of veggies that the average civilian cutting board doesn't encounter. And I guess if you're the closest thing to a walking, talking, anthropomorphic weird vegetable, disguised in a beard and plaid shirt, then I'd imagine you might be a little picky about whom you accept into your clan.

My initial response:

"Our idea of 'weird' is for people who live on Trader Joe's baby carrots and who buy boxes of cherry tomatoes in December, like my mom but also me two years ago, people who kind of get in a rut of cooking the same veggies over and over. But really, fennel is a strange strange creature no matter how well you get to know it."

Upon further reflection, I realized that a bunch of our posts are just about produce in general, weird or not, and began to feel a little glum about not living up to the full potential of our blog name--until my friend Jennifer made the startling yet undeniable observation that, "All vegetables are pretty weird if you think about it."

It's true. So, in a series of soul-searching discussions over treats at Tartine, coffee at Atlas Cafe, and in the Valencia St. bike lane, Erin and I have decided not only to seek out weirder vegetables but also to further probe the hidden strangeness of those vegetables we think we already know. And now that we have the added powers of Leif integrated into our growing Voltron assemblage, our weird vegetable quotient can only multiply exponentially.

To get us all reoriented, I wanted to leave you with some choice entries on the notion of weirdness from the Oxford English Dictionary:

weird, a.
1. Having the power to control the fate or destiny of human beings, etc.; later, claiming the supernatural power of dealing with fate or destiny.
Originally in the Weird Sisters = {dag}(a) the Fates; (b) the witches in Macbeth.

2. a. Partaking of or suggestive of the supernatural; of a mysterious or unearthly character; unaccountably or uncomfortably strange; uncanny.

b. of sounds or voices. [I don't know how this relates to vegetables yet, but it does explain the "weirding module" in David Lynch's Dune.]

4. a. Out of the ordinary course, strange, unusual; hence, odd, fantastic. (Freq. in recent use.)
b. Colloq. phr. weird and wonderful, marvellous in a strange or eccentric way; both remarkable and peculiar or unfathomable; exotic, outlandish. Freq. ironical or derog.

I am particularly intrigued by the idea of vegetables having supernatural powers, kind of like that creepy mandrake root baby creature in Pan's Labyrinth. And just when you thought peas were the same ol' ho-hum, they turn up in the entry for the verb "weird." Yes, the verb:

weird, v.
3. To warn or advise by the knowledge of coming fate.

1806 JAMIESON Pop. Ballads I. 237, I wierd ye, gangna there! Ibid. II. 174, I weird thee, to lat me be were best.
Hence {sm}weirded ppl. a.; {sm}weirding vbl. n. in Comb. weirding peas, peas employed in divination.

: The anatomically correct carrot (front and back shot) is from this blog. The googly-eyed produce are entries in Amy Sedaris' googly-eye craft challenge.


Throwaway said...

leif has a very high standard of vegetable wierdness. also high standards for foodblogging. and actually, he's a big fan of spanish horror cinema. really, you should just give him write-privileges to this blog. i miss him and his wierd vegetable eintopfs. also offtopic: my favorite supernatural tuber is from a svankmeyer movie but i forget the title. little otik?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of supernatural, how about the Radish Spirit in Miyazaki's Spirited Away? Sooo freaky...

(he's in there in the middle somewhere)

kale daikon said...

Spirited Away is one of my favorite movies! I love the spirit bath token creature, but I'll have to find the radish spirit now. Juan - what the hell is a vegetable eintopf? And who is svankmeyer? You may have to do a guest post on weird veggies in film...