Monday, April 21, 2008

Of parsnips, kale and shallots

Oops.  It's been a long time since I posted.  The semi-bad news about Robert's diagnosis really had me down for a while.  He also developed a sinus infection while in Vermont that went from bad to worse, and resulted in him not sleeping through the night for over a month.  

I did, though, just watch a video about Vermont, sort of, on YouTube.  I don't spend that much time on YouTube, but my husband was goofing off while we watched the unbearable, unending coverage of the Pennsylvania primary, or about to be primary, on TV.  He was looking up Jewish-themed things.  

Somehow, in the midst of this, this "Stuck in Vermont" video series came up.  They were pretty well put together.  The one I watched was about a cooking contest at the Champlain Valley Fair at which teens from local schools were cooking with "local" ingredients.  Like parsnips.  And kale.  It was claimed by one contestant that kale was being distributed to the Burlington school system to use in their cafeteria and that a lot of kale was being eaten.  

This is not the Vermont I grew up in.  I didn't know what the hell a parsnip was until I was about 29 years old and had moved to the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area.  I think I figured out what kale was at about the same time.  I still have trouble identifying kale at the grocery store without a little sign on it.  And I don't eat it.  Parsnips are good, though.  And, look, I grew up in Vermont in the 1970s and 1980s.  OK, the 1960s, too.

Every time I go home, I'm simultaneously proud of the various directions the state has moved in (liberal, civil unions, really good local food, great produce) and I also think, what a bunch of frigging weirdos.  There must be some sort of neo-academic term for this feeling of being both inside and outside a condition, place, or situation--or a state of consciousness.  The other thing I think is that all of us, even people like me and my friends who, frankly, couldn't wait to get the hell out of there, must have been quite a bunch of hooligans.  We started bar hopping at age 18 (ok, legally), drove the backroads at night flashing our high beams at people at the last minute, got our driver's permits at 14 (this my daughter could not believe--mommy, you've been driving a car since you were 14!), and, prior to bar hopping at 18, drank and made out at the fishing access parties.  We were green, though, for our time.  We didn't litter.  Vermont actually had the first anti-littering law and one of the first to ban bill boards--both by the early 1970s.  

Um, we were not sophisticated.  I guess that's the point I'm trying to make.  I always saw people who ate things like fancy vegetables as sophisticated.  Vermont is very sophisticated these days. I had one of the best cakes I've eaten in my life from a local bakery there.  I was also able to find shallots in the grocery store there.  (I didn't know what a shallot was, either, when I was growing up.)  Is it just that I want the place of my childhood to remain stuck in some kind of unsophisticated never-never land?

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