Saturday, December 15, 2007

Squash blossoms

Squash blossoms are fragile. You should eat them the same day you buy them.

But I found some at the market this morning and I won't be home for dinner tonight, so they're going to have to wait for tomorrow. I expect to stuff them with ricotta, batter them and deep fry them. And I expect them to be freaking delicious.

Sometimes a very simple food crosses a line and becomes gourmet, and the price goes up accordingly. This happens a lot with fish. Monkfish and lobster used to be trash fish, either discarded outright or sold off for cheap. Now you'll pay top dollar for them.

Squash blossoms are a very pricey item in the States. When I would buy them at the farmers market in Chicago (back in the days when I had to pay for things there), they were 75¢ or $1 apiece.

Here, I bought them for 5¢ apiece. Yes, some things are cheaper here than in the States, but this is disproportionately and marvelously inexpensive.

And who can resist eating flowers?

* * *

I'm loath to make generalizations — even positive ones — about porteños. But I really do think that people here talk to strangers a little more than in the States.

I was coming back from the market this morning and about to cross a busy street. To my right stood a woman in her 70s.

The light changed and I strode out into the crosswalk.

Behind me, I heard a voice shout: "Wait for me!"

I took a few more steps and heard it again.

I turned around to see the little old lady galloping my way. She had been speaking to me.

"¡A los dos juntos no nos van a atropellar!" ("They won't run us both over together!")

We got to the other side of the street and she thanked me. "Please!" I said. "It was nothing."

It made me think of how I always feel just a little bit better about crossing the street with a nun. Because if you run over a nun, don't you basically go straight to hell?

Then again, maybe they'll swerve to avoid the nun and take me out.


Wobbly Librarian said...

You're a punny guy. Helping little old ladies across the street, too.

Wobbly Librarian said...

Okay, you changed the last couple of words. Now my comment doesn't work as well.

Dan said...

Oh, man. This is embarrassing (for me, not for you).

I almost always tweak a few things in the first few minutes after I post.

Now that the inner workings of this blog are laid bare, I'll confess to originally having written: "Maybe they'll swerve to avoid the nun and squash me."

Squash me!

Get it?!

(While we're on the subject, this is the second version of this comment I've written.)

Anonymous said...

We recently bought some blueberries from Argentina. We live in Chicago. How do they survive the long voyage from Argentina to Chicago? It seems like they would get rotten or bruised. And couldn't you freeze some American blueberries in August and sell them in December?
--Matt Nickerson

Dan said...

At the end of the season, I sold plenty of blueberries to people who were planning to freeze them. So, yeah, you could — and should.

Not so much this last summer, but the summer before we froze a crapload of fruit . . . so much that it wasn't all eaten by the time summer came around again.

If it were me, I would probably buy frozen blueberries outside of blueberry season. I remember buying frozen wild Maine blueberries in the off-season and they were really good.

The blueberries don't get rotten or bruised traveling from Argentina to the States because they travel the same way you or I would — by plane. Plus, they're more than likely bred for disease resistance, durability and appearance. Taste is one sought-after trait, but one of many. (This is the case with a lot of fruit that travels — "fruit detective" David Karp wrote some about this with strawberries.)

For what it's worth, here the domestic market for blueberries is vanishingly small. They're grown almost entirely for export. I did actually see some the other day but they were expensive by local standards. Growers don't have much incentive to produce for the local market at local prices when they can sell everything for hard currency and better prices abroad.

Enjoy your blueberries!