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Farmers' Market Find

As all of my other herbs have given up, sorrel has become my go-to winter aromatic, especially since I discovered that the more I pick it, the better it grows.

It’s rhubarb season! Many people love to eat rhubarb but are completely confused about how to prepare it themselves. I remember the first time I saw a dense display of those long pinkish stalks at the Copley Square farmers' market in Boston. Rhubarb is indeed the stalk of a plant, much like chard or celery, cultivated for thousands of years. The leaves are toxic, but the edible stalk is scrumptious and versatile.

If they weren’t so darn tasty, artichokes almost wouldn’t be worth the trouble. Prepping, cooking, then the actual eating part—which requires working past spiny leaves and fuzzy inedible bits to get to the prized heart—demands dedication and perseverance.

I recently heard a farmers’ market grower on the radio refer to spring as the “leafy vegetable season,” citing spinach—not kale, chard, or another trendier green—as one of the best veggies to buy right now. I’m not talking about baby spinach, which is common as grass these days.

Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me. Lemons, at the height of ripeness during the darkness of mid-winter—how wonderful is that? Just when we are most in need of a revitalizing blast of summery color and flavor, the earth provides it.

Before The Kale Project came along and changed the edible landscape of Paris' outdoor markets, there wasn’t anything particularly kale-ish to be found beyond the usual cabbage and occasional bundle of collard greens. Then I discovered gai lan.

When I was growing up in Virginia, kale was kale. It was different from collards, mustards, and turnip salad (what my family calls turnip greens). There was only one variety of curly-leafed kale, which you boiled for a long, long time.

Wintertime can feel like a desert, culinarily speaking. Gone are the vivid stone fruits of summer and bright spring greens, replaced by root vegetables in varying shades of beige. Yet, the cold weather does bring its own colorful, edible bounty.