Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bitter Greens and Blues

I have the I-really-should-blog-today-but-oh-for-the-love-I-really-just-can't-right-now blues.

This morning I went to the farmers market and left with only raspberries. In my defense, I did just go on Thursday and pick up zucchini, green beans, fresh garlic, lettuce, carrots and tomatoes. But my shopping companions seemed worried. Or disappointed. Or both.

We did meet some very interesting women. One of the many factors that make me so very much my mother's daughter, is the quality we both possess when we are so overcome with curiosity about an intriguing behavior about food, that it is simply impossible for us to mind our own business. As we were about to pass by three women eagerly stuffing large garbage bags full of a mysterious green plant, subsequently wiping the vendor clean out of the stuff, my mother turned to me and whispered, "I've seen someone do this before, with the big garbage bags for all the greens; what is that stuff? I've got to find out."

Turns out, due to a very short window these greens appear at the markets, the women were stocking up for the whole year. Apparently this bitter green plant is very high in iron, and they considered it a treasure. Per their native country (which we found out was Kenya), they cook the greens down with onion and tomato to create a sort of stew, which they then would freeze and eat throughout the year - until the next season rolled around, when they could go out and collect as much as possible. I don't think this green had a name that was consistent to every culture. There were no signs to mark it. The women called it something that sounded like "managa," although I have no idea about the spelling because I googled "managa" and google seemed confused by my inquiry. One guy we asked gave a shrug and just said, "I think they're just bitter greens. Like spinach. Kinda."

I loved meeting these ladies and learning their story. I wonder if I told them about how I make fried green tomatoes when it's green tomato season, if they'd find that as fascinating as I found them. I got a big kick out of that thought since I don't think I could possibly fascinate anyone. Maybe if I went to Kenya. I'll have to try that sometime.


Anonymous said...

Worried! Restraint in all things except the farmers market in July. Lets get some of those sugar snap peas and stuff them with homemade boursin cheese that we have made with that fresh garlic, parsley and drained cottage cheese.
Also, V, I saw some fresh sour cherries today in the meat case at Clancey's. Yes, in the meat case. I would have bought them for you but they were nine bucks for a pint. See you soon, Love-

Queen B said...

oh, mananga? I just made 3 pots of the stew myself last week! Can't make it without the stuff. Stay out of my way when I get my craving in January....sheesh ;)
Seriously, the saturday raspberries were craveable. I am glad you got some. love.