Thursday, 20 February 2014

Fresh veg

So exercise is good for the brain as well as one's physical health,as we discovered yesterday.  Of course, the other thing - or maybe just one of the other things - that is good for the body and probably the brain as well is good, fresh fruit and veg.  There was a time when most of the hoi-polloi, the serfs and vassals, ate only what they grew themselves or found in the woods and hedgerows and fields.  And there is a lot to be said for growing one's own vegetables.  from plot to plate in less than 30 minutes means that very little of the goodness has slipped away from the food, which tastes all the better for that.  There is nothing quite like a helping of peas that were still in the garden only a few minutes ago!  But, of course, we are no longer able - or willing - to grow it all ourselves.  Which means that by the time we get to buy the vegetables in the supermarket, there being a dearth of greengrocers' shops nowadays, everything is past its best and on the road to rot.

But I am always puzzled why it is that the carrots we buy in France when we stop off at the supermarket in Calais on our way home, are so much fresher than any we can buy in England.  What is it that Auchan does that Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco don't?  It certainly seems to me that Auchan must source their vegetables from local producers.  At least in part.  There are no vegetables or fruits that do not start deteriorating as soon as they are picked, although some rot quicker than others.  And yet supermarkets bring in products from thousands of miles away.  What I call French beans - often now called dwarf beans - are on sale all year round and they are brought in from Egypt, Kenya and even Guatemala!  And they taste almost like a different bean from the ones I grow myself.

Of course, some fruits retain their freshness longer than others.  Take oranges, for example.  Which reminds me of a story about the first orange I ever saw.

During my early years, oranges and lemons were in very short supply.  Indeed, they could not be bought in England for love nor money.  We were at war, and there were far more important things to be transported by the convoys than the vast quantities of citrus fruit we are nowadays accustomed to seeing in the shops.  I was about 5 or 6 when I went into hospital to have my tonsils removed.  Another boy a few years older than me was in the bed next to me and we were the only children in a mens' surgical ward.  One of the nurses took pity on us and gave us each an orange.  This was something completely new to me but the other boy, being a little older, remembered them and showed me how to puncture the skin with my teeth in order to suck the goodness out.

When the nurse came by to collect her oranges, possibly the first she had managed to buy for several years, she was horrified to see that they had been eaten.  She hadn't dreamed that we would know they were edible and thought we would simply play with them like balls.


Returning from the Chattri, this is the view we see of Hollingbury with the Roman Camp being the high point.  Those Iron Age dwellers certainly had a good view.


joeh said...

Love the orange story.

Buck said...

from plot to plate in less than 30 minutes means that very little of the goodness has slipped away from the food, which tastes all the better for that.

I can vouch for that. I had a half-acre vegetable garden when I lived in Oklahoma. One of my fondest memories is going out into the garden, aka small truck farm, and harvesting sweet corn for dinner. That and tomatoes, potatoes, three or bean variants, sweet peas, and melons, among other things. That period in my life was one of the best, ever.

Suldog said...

There's much to be said for fresh vegetables, that's for sure. You sometimes don't know what you're getting these days, though - bio-engineered weird things that look like a tomato but taste nothing like the good fresh tomatoes of our youth. Be careful. Who knows what hideous things will be discovered about these foods that don't naturally age.