This week's prompt asked us to describe your favorite fruit or vegetable: the first time you tasted it, where it came from, where you were, what memories it brings.
My Mom was born and raised in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and came to America as a young adult. She brought with her a heritage of Dutch cooking, which seem to come in two varieties: the potatoes, cheese, onion and cabbage type of meals or, thanks to Rotterdam's importance as a shipping port, spicy Indonesian type dishes.
When Mom was in the mood for comfort food from her childhood, she would make this dish that had black-eyed peas and Indonesian spices in it. It smelled exactly like the north end of a jackass walking south and we kids all hated it. It took all day to make, so we had the whole day to dread that pot of beans. After a bean day, we were a little scared any time Mom was going to make Dutch food.
I looked at the white and green endives, shaped like a bullet, and thought, "Oh no. I bet these are going to be like those damn beans." I liked vegetables, but I was afraid she was going to dip them in some weird spice that grows only on trees that get pooped on by some particular monkey. Or something. I also knew better than to show any reluctance, though, because Mom would not tolerate a decision on food until we'd tasted it. So I watched.
She steamed them for about 15 minutes, and then rolled them in heavy cream, then seasoned breadcrumbs mixed with parmesan cheese. She drizzled butter over the top, sprinkled on some more of the crumb mixture and baked at 400 until they were golden brown and fragrant.
Oh. My. Heavens. They were so rich in my mouth! More flavorful than a lettuce and milder than cabbage, they had a flavor and texture all their own. The butter and parmesan belong together in the dictionary under "Perfect". Of course, you could roll pretty much anything in breadcrumbs, cheese and butter and make it tasty, but these were divine.
Mom told us about the little green grocer where Grandma did her vegetable shopping, and the cheese market where Grandma bought cheese. She told us about how excited she was at her first trip to a supermarket, a uniquely American invention. She told us how Grandma was a "calendar cook". You could tell what day of the week it was by what was on the table. Mom is a much more creative cook.
When I can get Belgium Endive now, I almost eat myself sick on them. I love the way they taste and I love their connection to my own roots. I even love that they taught me not to jump to conclusions.
Always, feel free to comment! Trish in AZ