You think you know someone, for years, decades…..and then you find out that there’s this other side, that the real persona lies beneath the surface. You had already made the adjustments back in second grade when you lost the argument, and tomatoes and squashes and eggplants and peppers were no longer the simple vegetables you’d thought them to be. Okay, not all fruit is sweet. You got over it. Then came the quinoa madness. First you had to get past the spelling and the pronunciation and the crazy amount of attention suddenly devoted to this new-old ‘grain’. Turns out, it’s not a grain after all: it’s a fruit. Perhaps you’re still thinking that rhubarb is a fruit. Come out of the clouds and know that it is, if anything, vegetable matter. Fruit masquerading as vegetables and grain, vegetables parading as fruit…..what next? Will beef be outed as a plant? (Not so preposterous when you consider it grass, or grain, as processed by a cow.)
Enter stage left, the strawberry. Fruit, not a fruit. It’s classified as an ‘aggregate’ fruit. Meaning that it’s a bunch of little fruits posing together as one. Raspberries clearly demonstrate this quality. But I’ve often wondered: where are all the little fruits in the case of the strawberry? It looks like one fruit sprinkled with seeds. And therein lies the answer: the seeds are the fruit. The red stuff (not kidding here) is known as an “accessory”. Huh. Like a Kelly handbag? Only in this case, the contents ride on the exterior. Now that’s thinking outside of the box.
And we have yet another con artist in caraway ‘seed’. What you’re really looking at is a fruit with a seed inside. Similar in this regard to dill, cumin, and anise, the fruit of the caraway is of the dry type known as ‘akene’.
Caraway has a place in a number of cuisines, ranging from Scandinavian and German to Middle Eastern. Refer to the sidebar (category cloud) for more recipes. Here is an adaptation of a Tunisian salad by Martha Rose Shulman that I’ve enjoyed making for many years. Notice the lovely plate by Israeli ceramic artist Yael Novak.
Recipe: Tunisian Beet and Potato Salad
(adapted from Martha Rose Shulman, “Mediterranean Light”)
4 medium sized beets
3 medium sized potatoes, halved
1 to 2 tsps caraway seed
1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup yogurt
¼ c each of minced parsley and coriander
Steam beets for 20 minutes, peel when cool, and slice or cube.
Steam potatoes for 15 minutes, or to just tender. When cool, you may peel or not, and slice.
Lightly toast caraway seed either in a heavy skillet or at 300 degrees in a toaster oven for just a few minutes. Grind in a mortar and pestle, or buzz in a mini food processor.
Combine with remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with the beets and potatoes. Best served at room temperature. Makes enough for 4 side dish portions.
TRACKING THE TAMARACK, aka, Hackmatack, or Larch…….