Lettuce give thanks

Posted by crosenbl on July 12, 2010 

One of the things my wife and I like about being in the community garden at Tudek Park, other than fresh vegetables, is the camaraderie.

We're in our second season with a double plot beside one of the water hoses. Consequently, we end up chatting a lot. Gardening becomes a universal language, bringing together people of different ages, backgrounds and nationalities. Even if it's just a brief compliment or tip, we have a connection.

But that's not all we share.

Last year, our Chinese neighbor generously gave us surplus hot peppers. When we saw her again recently, we praised her beautiful rows of a lettuce-like plant with spiky leaves. So she picked a few for us, telling us the Mandarin name — which I forgot to jot down and now escapes me — and how to prepare it. That I remember: steam lightly, then quickly stir fry with a little oil and maybe hot pepper.

Then, this weekend, another gardener — a Phillies fan with whom I also enjoy talking baseball — educated Michele and me about his specialty, Eastern European heirloom tomatoes. When they ripen, he said, he'll let us taste a few.

Moments like those remind me that, in a fractured time, food remains the great uniter.

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