Ode to a Vegetable
I’m not a poet, so don’t fear a lame attempt to evoke emotions about some leafy, green bunch of vitamins and fiber. But a recent event, and realization, requires explanation.
Five weeks ago, contractors gutted my kitchen for a four-week project. A few days ago, custom cabinets finally painted, they installed my wall oven-microwave combo unit. The space still lacked countertops and running water, but that operational oven meant I could once again cook. A little.
In the previous weeks, I sampled every brand of frozen, microwaveable dinner. While good every so often, eating them for lunch and dinner, day-in and day-out, got old. I hated their version of marinara sauce. I could make a better quiche. And to my surprise, very few vegetables showed up in their portions. After two weeks, I craved anything fresh.
Oh, I tried the steam packets of frozen veggies. Bland, flavorless and soggy. I mucked them down anyways, because they added a different consistency to the globs of food called dinner. I found myself wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles in the produce section longing for roasted broccoli, marinated cauliflower, and even crisped brussels sprouts. No sauces, only seasoned with salt and pepper and coated with a thin film of extra virgin olive oil.
When the soft tinkle of digital bells confirmed power to my oven, my soul found new life. I couldn’t get the contractors out of the house fast enough to get to the store. I mentally planned my route through the warehouse-like expanse, a targeted strike to the meat counter with ready-to-bake dishes in oven-safe containers. I thumbed through the recipe box to find a homemade avocado dressing, and wrote down the ingredients before leaving.
I plowed through the after-work crowd and picked three meats, unconcerned about what type because their role as garnish didn’t matter. When I pointed the cart to the produce section, the carnage began. I touched, poked, smelled and squeezed every vegetable. Still constrained by the lack of a prep surface, I sadly replaced those that required cutting or washing. But I dreamed about the meal I would prepare after I handed over the final check for a completed project. In the section of prepared veggies, I spent thirty-minutes debating what items would work well with the avocado dressing. With my cart full of clear plastic containers instead of colorful boxes from the freezers, I queued up at a register, giddy with anticipation of a meal with raw vegetables.
I considered myself staunchly carnivore. Until a behind-schedule kitchen renovation brought me to my knees with uncontrolled cravings for fresh vegetables. And, at least for one day, I joined the ranks of vegetarian.