strawberries and snap peas

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It’s been hard for me to write this week because my feelings have been all jumbled up. Sometimes life is very complicated. My entire self seems to be saturated with intermittent feelings of excitement, depression, anxiety, enchantment, bliss, and self loathing.

This must mean I’m finally an adult.

Frankly, the only lasting ups that I’ve had this week have been directly connected to good meals. There have been fresh strawberries and baby peas in my life. Also, to celebrate an anniversary, Thom and I drove up to Portland, ME, and ate dinner at Fore Street as a treat. Somehow, despite the novelty and general amazingness of Fore Street, it couldn’t compare to late spring fruits and veggies.

The memory of biting into a fresh itty bitty green pea is impossible to replicate. Crisp, juicy, sweet, and summery….

When I was little, living in Northampton, MA, my family had a small yard behind our house. It had a little chain link fence dividing it from our neighbors yard in a very suburban way. Along the fence every year grew little snap peas.

In June I would go out and check the pea’s progress like it was a ritual. Sometimes I would let the pods fatten and grow until they were swelled and sweet as candy. Other times I would eat them right away.

I miss being a kid. I’m sad that I’ve already run out of my second bag of snap peas this week. I still have strawberries left, but they’re a different beast.

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Strawberries to me are complicated. They are sweet, but sometimes in a way that makes me question what it is they really are. Their seeds bury between my teeth without fail, and with no promise of wriggling free on their own. Grocery store strawberries are the worst. They have a pervasive flavor that seems to linger.

They make me dislike growing up. I never started pinpointing the faults in strawberries until I was coming home from college for good. I was in the car with my mom, enjoying a bag of strawberries. It had been a hard year all around. I felt defeated.

My hands started to itch. They were turning red. I was tired. Strawberry seeds were vacationing in my gums. Life was complicated. I didn’t need fruit to be. At that moment I turned my back on strawberries at large.

Since then I’ve softened up to them a little. There are time when you can find the perfect box of strawberries. They will be small, entirely red, firm with a little give, and so so sweet. Not in that cloying processed strawberry way. Sweet like summer rain. Sweet like a kiss.

I found one of those boxes of strawberries last monday at the Durham Market. The stand was inconspicuously tucked in the middle of the line of stalls, but I knew what I was looking for. I knew that I needed to find those strawberries first. I was nearly knocked aside by two women behind me to get them – there were only six boxes. But I made it home safely with an idyllic box of strawberries.

The didn’t even last the whole night. These strawberries are the kind that could start wars. I couldn’t chance them being around too long.

I tried to get an equal box of strawberries later in the week at the Exeter Market. This box was one of dozens upon dozens, from a much larger vendor. I could tell when I saw them that they weren’t going to be the same, but I got them anyway. They were good… but not worth the trouble. They didn’t have the magic of the first box.

I am starting to think that you only get one box like that in the summer. None of the ones that follow compare. It’s like growing up. Magic happens less and less, and you have to forget what it’s like before you can experience new magic.

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope so. If I’m not, I’ve still got my snap peas.

.010 – Rhubarb and Pork Chops

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Rhubarb has been a constant source of wonder for me ever since I was a child. I was born in Berkeley, CA, and I remember my parents had huge rhubarb stalks that grew up behind the house. I asked about them a lot – what they were, what they tasted like, how you cooked them….

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