You can’t always get what you want…
by Brittany Grace
As the clock struck midnight last Sunday, I was strolling down Wylie Street with two dear friends, enchanted by the southern snow falling, urgently, onto our faces and coats and boots. It felt serendipitous, even though it was really just the erratic disposition of Mother Nature: a white Christmas, followed by a white 29th birthday. Laura and Adrian sang happy birthday and produced a red velvet cupcake on the walk, and tried, furtively, to light a candle on it. The purpose of the walk was to savor the snow falling, and to enjoy a round of drinks at the nearest neighborhood bar. I really wanted a good beer. But the bar was closing when we arrived. We stood around for a minute, looking out the windows at drunk people who were sliding all over the sidewalk.
We also dodged a snowball fight – it’s my birthday, please don’t pelt us – and shuffled home to drink the Maker’s Mark that was living above my fridge. This was the beginning of a long, interesting week: no work for 5 days, a canceled catering gig, canceled meetings, my car buried under a few inches of ice-encrusted snow/no driving for days, a slippery walk to Variety to see the Walkmen, lots of hot toddies, too much takeout, not enough produce. I felt alternately bummed, relaxed, relieved, frustrated, happy, stressed, excited. At the end of the week, I realized I had experienced a lot of not getting what I wanted, while getting what I truly needed.
Preparing to make a batch of winter minestrone soup tonight, I found myself sneering at the thought of more leeks, and potatoes, and turnips. I want blackberries that stain my cuticles. Sweet, juicy, yellow tomatoes. Tiny, tender peas. Fresh, fleshy artichokes. If I stray from my seasonal-eating pact to myself, and grab some slices of apple from the work mini-fridge, I know I will be underwhelmed. These are not the crisp, north Georgia apples of October – they are a mealy fruit, in which you can taste the miles it took to get to your mouth.
Then, it occurred to me: there is a charm inherent in seasonal eating. You can’t always get what you want, but like Mr. Jagger says, you get what you need. The rooty, leafy vegetables that are currently abundant will not be taking up space in the garden forever, and they provide a wide assortment of nutrients our bodies need, especially in the wintertime. Soon enough, those roots and greens will give way to the beauties of spring. Robust artichokes and plump peas will be thrown into salads, and we will savor them, as the ground gets warmer and our gardens get denser.
This is the thanks we get for eating seasonally: a palate that learns to savor flavors as they come and go, the specialness of first harvests, an evolving menu, and healthy insides.
Thank you, winter, for making us slow down like other living things do, giving us root vegetables, and providing snow accumulation in the South. You make me appreciate the other seasons much more.
Citrus with Rosemary Honey, adapted from Russ Parson’s How to Pick a Peach
In the throes of winter, when your fruit bowl may only boast colors of yellow and orange, this simple herbed honey glaze gives clementines, mandarins and tangerines a nice punch.
1/2 c. local honey
A couple pinches of fresh rosemary leaves (to taste)
1 1/2 pounds fresh Florida citrus (the closest citrus to Atlanta) – clementines, mandarin oranges, and/or tangerines
Mince rosemary and add to honey; heat mixture over low heat in a small pot, until it liquefies. Allow to steep 15 minutes, or longer.Peel fruit and divide into bite-size pieces; remove stringy, white pith (locate central pith in middle of fruit and pull from there for easy removal). Place fruit in glass bowl; drizzle (but don’t drench) rosemary honey over top of all citrus. Garnish with rosemary sprigs. Enjoy!