Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kitchen Sink Greens Part One: An Ode to Greens

Greens have always been magical foodstuffs to me. They make me understand why creationism is so popular. Just like chicken, tangerines, and potatoes, they seem to be designed specifically for human consumption.

Greens grow best during the winter. Way back when—back when the world was still tied to the seasons—this was a godsend; all that nutrition coming in a handy package, growing just when we needed it most. We may be able to get mangos in February, but even now greens seem a little miraculous. When all the produce we’re eating is shipped up from the southern hemisphere, we can still get greens fresh—even if they’re not always at the greenmarket stands, they’re growing out of the ground six stops out of grand central.

Greens tell us when they’re done by sight and smell and sound. But they’re durable cookers, too—we can forget about them for a while, and they’ll still come out pretty much fine. We can decide, like I usually do, to throw in something halfway through cooking that really should have gone in first, and they’ll roll with it. They even make their own gravy. Whatever made greens made them right.

Accordingly, greens are utilized in a legion of cuisines. The Iberian peninsula is way up on greens, which means its pretty big in Mexican and Brazilian cooking as well. Indian cuisine loves greens, and its mutual. Their slow cooking methods are just what greens want. I borrowed stuff from all of them on the way to this dish. An obscene amount of greens come out of Southeast Asia. While the flavor profiles of those greens tend to be a little bit different, a little imagination translates pretty much any recipe into a greens-friendly one.

In Part Two, a recipe of sorts appears.

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