From the Farmer

Week 16 – 9/19/2012
Ode to the Onion
Pablo Neruda
 
Onion
luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grey round with dew.
Under the earth
the miracle
happened
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared.
and your leaves were born
like swords
in the garden.
the earth heaped up her power
showing your naked transparency.
and as the remote sea
in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite
duplicated the magnolia.
So did the earth
make you,
onion,
clear as a planet,
and destined
to shine,
constant constellation
round case of water.
upon
the table
of the poor.
Generously
you undo
your globe of freshness
in the fervent consummation
of the cooking pot
and the crystal shred
in the flaming heat of the oil
is transformed into a curled golden feather.
Then, too, I will recall how fertile
is your influence
on the love of the salad,
and it seems that the sky contributes
by giving you the shape of hailstones
to celebrate our chopped brightness
on the hemispheres of a tomato.
But within reach
of the hands of the common people,
sprinkled with oil.
dusted
with bit of salt,
you kill the hunger
of the day laborer on his hard path.
Star of the poor,
fairy godmother
wrapped
in delicate
paper, you rise from the ground
eternal, whole, pure
like an astral seed.
and when the kitchen knife
cuts you, here arises
the only tear
without sorrow.
You make us cry without hurting us.
I have praised everything that exists,
but to me, onion, you are
more beautiful than a bird
of dazzling feathers,
you are to my eyes
a heavenly globe, a platinum goblet,
an unmoving dance
of the snowy anemone.
And the fragrance of the earth lives
in your crystalline nature. 
 
Sweet Potatoes
 
We have sweet potatoes. THESE ARE NOT YAMS (Dioscoreaceae, African crop). Or candied potatoes (Solanacea family). Rather, sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are a member of the morning glory family… with the same lovely flowers and big (very big) roots.
 
Pablo Neruda did not write an Ode to Sweet Potatoes (though he did write one to fried potatoes), but they are very much a crop of the Western Hemisphere and evidence of domesticated sweet potatoes dating to 2,500 BC was found in his native Peru. While sweets are almost certainly bred from wild Central American species, they’re also a part of the Polynesian mystery, as the sweet potato was one of the “canoe plants” Polynesians took with them aboard their outrigger canoes as they traveled and settled the Pacific. Most archaeologists agree the sweet things traveled from the Americas to Europe (Columbus took them back himself ) and then east, but there were sweet potatoes in the Pacific long before that. So where’d they get them from? We are interested in learning more, and if there are any kids out there looking for a school or side project, the farm will support the effort with any needed sweet potato paraphernalia: tubers, plants, photos, recipes, botanical information, track suites, t-shirts, wristbands, etc.
 
Ours come in orange and white flesh. Many of North America’s best varieties were bred on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia, and our whites are among them. We’ll wax poetic about these later this season when they’re ready for eating. In the meantime, we’re rolling out two varieties with sweet, deep orange flesh: Beauregard and Covington. Butter and maple syrup seem to be a sweet potato’s best friends, but there are more things to do with sweet potatoes than Bubba Gump shrimp – and I tell you there are some excellent –and kid friendly – recipes using raw sweet potato. The standard (and one of my favorites) is to stab a sweet potato with a fork a few times then bake it in the oven. Bake it low and slow.
 
Be great,
 
Mike

 

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