Monday, August 23, 2010


I'm reading a book called "Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses," by Bruce Feiler. That's him over on the right, with teeth so blindingly white that I suspect he's been using Crest Radioactive Strips (Now With Extra Glow-in-the Dark Isotopes). What really cracks me up about this book is the author's inability to use a metaphor or simile -- and no, I don't know the difference, and yes, I actually was paying attention in 7th grade English class, to my eternal regret, since that is valuable daydreaming time I will never get back -- without comparing something to food. Water in a stream is the color of mint and smooth like gelatin. A strip of sand is likened to a baguette. Bricks are loaf-sized. Columns made of naturally-occurring salt look like asparagus. Hills are the color of cinnamon. Bushes look like -- I'm serious -- spinach souffles.

Since he likes using food metaphors so much, I was thinking this author could write a book called "Walking Wisconsin," with state-specific food metaphors. Here's an imaginary excerpt: "As we moved through the forest I spied a bird flitting through canopy, and its chirp sounded like the squeak of fresh cheese curds. The knobbly bark of the tree I touched was rough like a bratwurst that had been boiled in beer and then grilled, but not as, you know, greasy, and of course without the mustard because that would be too messy. Definitely with onions, though. As the sun set, the color of the leaves was like the deep-fried pickle on a stick I got at the State Fair and although I later wished I had gotten the chocolate-covered bacon instead, for bragging rights if nothing else. The pebbles underfoot were as numerous as all the metaphorical statins I am going to be on by the time I finish this book." 

Of course, if he wrote a more specific book called Walking in Madison, it would have to be different. He would admire the waves lapping the shore, which made a sound like quinoa being washed. (Like organic quinoa being washed, because when you wash the non-organic kind, all the toxins make a really jangly sound that is nothing like waves.)

And as long as we're on the topic of Madison, I would like to register a complaint that only exists in Madison: There were too many eggplant in my CSA box last week. A CSA share (community-supported agriculture) is basically a vegetable subscription you buy from a farm for local, usually organic vegetables. The farm determines the mix of vegetables you receive, and last week I received four eggplant in my box. Not only can I not eat four eggplant in a week, I'm not sure I can eat four eggplant in my lifetime. I actually had an eggplant-related anxiety dream last night, in which I opened up the box to find a 50 pounder. I have sufficient stress in my life that I'd rather not add a surplus of eggplant to the list.

We do surprisingly well eating all the vegetables that come in our box. We eat everything except for fennel. And sunchokes, which is the new-fangled name for Jerusalem artichokes. Presumably they were renamed to make them sound more palatable. I like this idea of renaming vegetables to enhance their appeal, although I still have grave doubts about any food that has the word "choke" right in it. I think farmers could take some hints from the political world. You know how lobbying groups often work for exactly the opposite result that their name would imply? So a group that calls itself Coalition of Concerned Patriotic Heartland Americans for Sustainable Safe Energy Solutions is basically BP, with one guy from Exxon whose job it is to bring doughnuts to the group's meetings. Fennel could be re-branded Green Feathery Bulb of Deliciousness That Doesn't Taste Like Weird Halloween Candy That Nobody Likes, So Put That Right Out Of Your Mind. I can't come up with any new names for eggplant, though, and I think I know why: not enough time spent daydreaming in 7th grade.

1 comment:

  1. i supposedly don't like fennel either... except that i love this one recipe with fennel: fennel chard pie in a yeast bread crust. its in the NEW Vegetarian Epicure (and you can order it from the library... we've got it.) Now, it is a relatively labor intensive recipe, but if you are like me you'll go to great lengths *sometimes* to use your CSA veg. Othertimes they rot in the crisper drawer and are composted (but with guilt, I assure you.)