Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In which The Heirs eat elsewhere

When it comes to trying new foods, I'm pretty adventurous. I always thought this was a good thing, since Dirtman loves to bring home the "new products" that come into the produce department at work.

There really hasn't been anything too disturbing; usually a fruit hybrid accompanied by some bizarre, disturbing description: "It tastes like a grape, but has the consistency of an avocado." You have to wonder how boring things get around the horticulture lab that someone suggests "Ya, know what might be good? Let's cross a potato with a watermelon and see what we get."

Anyway, the grocery store chain Dirtman works for has corporate offices out of state and, from there, they sometimes get it into their heads to send entire cases of expensive, exotic vegetables alien to this area, expecting customers to take it on faith that they taste good.

This is how I ended up with a bag of fiddleheads in my kitchen.

Fiddleheads are not completely unknown to me -- they grew wild in my native Pine Barrens of New Jersey. And, while I have been known to avail myself of wild greens in places far, far away from road beds (where vegetation is regularly sprayed with chemicals), it never occurred to me to injest a fiddlehead. Turns out that was probably a smart move, since the Pine Barren variety were probably toxic.

So Dirtman brought home a nice, safe bag of fiddleheads and I followed package directions and boiled them for seven minutes and tossed them with lemon juice, butter and salt. The package claimed the taste was a "cross between asparagus and green beans."

Were we ever in need of a vegetable with a flavor between asparagus and a green bean?

Certainly that was the opinion of the Heirs, who saw no need in their lives for an asparagus/string bean flavor blast, though they were delighted with the fact that holding them upside down turns them into little yo-yos and prompting me to wonder how long after a child has passed his eighteenth year you can stop reminding them not to play with their food.

So Dirtman and I were the only ones who actually ate the fiddleheads, our reaction to which was..........................................................


They tasted like...a vegetable; nothing unique or outstanding. They are, however, visually interesting.

So the next night I decided to put the leftovers into a frittata, figuring I would artfully arrange the coil of the fiddleheads around sliced mushrooms and then pour the egg mixture on top. This way, when I turned the frittata out, the bottom would be the top.

The Heirs, of course, chose to dine elsewhere.

Well, that was the plan anyway. When it came to actually doing it, I remembered that my nonstick pan isn't oven-safe (which is where you finish off a frittata). So I had to resort to my iron skillet where I artfully arranged the fiddleheads and mushrooms and poured the egg mixture on top, at which point I realized that the reason you finish a frittata in the oven is so that the cheese you put on top melts. This was a frittata, not an omelet, and no one was going to see my artfully arranged fiddleheads coiled around sliced mushrooms.

So much for my career in food styling.

The frittata was wonderful, though. was wonderful so long as you kept your eyes closed. The fiddleheads turned the eggs gray on the inside. And, again, not a strong flavor.

The final verdict: If I need a conversation-starter at dinner, I'll serve fiddleheads. If doctors discover that fiddleheads cause you to suddenly drop your weight by 10 pounds every week, I'll serve fiddleheads. If fiddleheads go on sale for a dollar a pound, I'll serve fiddleheads. Otherwise..............



Ari_1965 said...

I just read a post at Voluntary Simplicity that mentions fiddlehead ferns. The VS people have a garden visible from the road with some decorative ferns. Some nasty woman in an SUV stopped and helped herself to their ferns. Even when confronted by them, nicely, she persisted. Even when they told her they weren't fiddlehead ferns and weren't edible, she persisted. The title of the post was something like "I hope she doesn't eat them." Personally I hope she does and gets a 3-day bout of diarrhea. Honestly, uprooting and stealing someone's plants!

I've tried fiddlehead ferns. And, you're right, meh. They're just sort of there.

Trasherati said...

You had me (sort of) until "the eggs turned grey".

Sisiggy said...

Ari: That's the opinion of everyone I've talked to. Yet this week we had a Canadian lady volunteering at the farm and she insisted we all either didn't know how to cook them properly or we'd gotten a lousy batch of fiddleheads. Yet she couldn't tell me precisely how you spot a good batch.

Trasherati:...which is why the Heirs ate elsewhere...I made up for it the next day with another Who Hash night.

Darkgarden said...

We had THOSE in Jersey???!!! EEEKS!!! Don't you DARE ever bring those things around here... OR try to get Johnboy and I to partake of them.

Sisiggy said...

They grew under the pine trees in the barrens where there was a layer of needles and very little sun. But it's like the cardone (gar-doo-na', as we heard it) -- it's comforting to know that, come the total breakdown of the entire eco-social system, I can still conjure a meal by going out and picking some fiddleheads.