Monday, December 03, 2007

back to the roots

On Friday evening the Eleven and kids were driving home from a children’s dental appointment and Balducci’s gourmet market trip (the Balducci’s visit was my filling while the boys had their filling) and we decided to stop at the Eden Center for a little treat. The Eden Center is a shopping area in Falls Church that gives you an idea of what if would be like to get set down smack dab in the middle of a Vietnamese city, or so I guess – markets, restaurants, jewelers, too many people. Anyway, we’d stopped by for a couple of taro root, nee Colocasia esculenta, bubble drinks as our Friday treat. On the way out of the shopping center X turns to me and says “I pretty much love any root vegetable.” Maybe the conversation involved roots, with the taro and all, but it still struck me as a pretty broad proclamation to make in any environment. You can’t just say something like that and not expect to get laughed at. What did I do? I laughed, and then tried to come up with some other freakishly broad generalization which ended up being “I love most aubergine-colored fish.” Case closed.

Sunday morning brought visits to the DuPont farmer’s market and the D.C. fish market. I was in a mood. There are more seasonal changes at farmer’s market as the greens have changed, the gourds dominate, and the flower lady is off to Europe and Asia for the remainder of the winter. She apparently does quite well selling flowers. The pick of the week was a basket of jerusalem artichokes, nee Helianthus tuberosus or sunchoke, that will be deftly turned to a gratin in the immediate future (click here to see that the city of Jerusalem has nothing to do with the name…I know you want it). More roots? Maybe X poisoned my mind with root and tuber thoughts.

The fish market was a whole new experience this trip. I got two 2-lb mullet for dinner but didn’t want, or even know how, to filet them myself. The seller pointed out the blue-and-white stripped ‘building’ at the market that does all the fish cleaning for the vendors. I toted my two mullet to the shack, walk in, and get stand in the midst of an amazing adventure. There are about six workers, a counter, a scale, and work stations ripe with boards, hoses, buckets, slop, knives, scalers, and more slop. It’s $.45 a pound for cleaning so my 4 lbs. of fish is going to run me $1.80. This little cultural nugget is so foreign to me – this isn’t some fish house out in Virginia, or Omaha…this is a fish house. The talk is fast and loose, the NFL pre-game is playing on a crappy 13” TV in the corner, the fish is cleaned and dunked to rinse, and I’m mesmerized for fifteen minutes while I watch the destruction. Unless you have serious issues with fresh fish I’m taking all visitors to the market and fish house.

I’ve scored tickets for tonight’s Patriots v. Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium up in Baltimore. The weather forecast is for cold and windy so I’ll bundle it up. As one would expect I’m working the light rail transport right to the stadium. Report to follow. If you see me on TV make sure to get a good TiVO.


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