500 words on vegetables

I don’t like onions. I cook with them when they’ll melt or be part of the flavour. Like I’d use onions in a stew or spring (salad) onions when I steam fish. But I never eat it if I can see it, even if it means being a total slob and picking them out. Reason isn’t that cutting onions make my eyes water, or that raw onions burn my mouth. I simply don’t like onions or anything related to onions. Although I like the idea of onions, where each layer peels off to reveal another.

I don’t stay away from all strong foods. I love garlic. Can’t stand coriander (cilantro to ye across the pond). Not keen on aubergines (eggplants, duh). May be one of the qualifying criteria is they are known by different names. But, using that logic I should dislike courgettes (zucchini) but I don’t, so that theory’s out of the window.

Artichokes. What other act not involving another human being is as sensual as eating an artichoke. See what I mean about depth and peeling off layers? The peeling of the leaves, dipping in butter or mayonnaise, scraping the flesh out, swirling around your mouth like good wine, savouring the taste all over. Then repeat with each leaf until you get to the heart. Best part. Taste of heaven. In the 16th century, artichokes were reserved for men only because it was considered an aphrodisiac. May be they weren’t all wrong.

There’s something about root vegetables that’s super comforting. Favourites are roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips and pumpkin. For the longest time I never had pumpkin, we never had it at home and I used to be unsure about how to cook them. Plus it seemed a bother to peel and what not. Boy have I been missing out on yummy goodness. Best roast potatoes are par-boiled in water, drain off the water, put the lid back on, shake then roast in goose or duck fat. Guaranteed perfection.

In Switzerland I virtually existed on rocket, otherwise known as rucola, rugula, arugula and roquette – this baby’s got so many names. No dressing, just sea salt and pepper. I might add avocado or cherry tomatoes to make a salad. But normally it’s just a big bowl of the stuff.

I tried growing my own herbs. The basil you buy in a pot from the supermarket doesn’t transplant well, I’ve tried enough times, they always wilt away after a while. Mint is no problem, I have a pot growing on my windowsill. A Greek restaurant lady taught me this recipe for the most exquisite iced tea: strong earl grey tea, seven-up, lemon, lime and mint leaves. I love the smell and taste of rosemary. This one time I was making herb roasted chicken and rosemary potatoes on a hot summer day but I had to close the balcony door because the kitchen was being attacked by wasps, attracted by the smell of the rosemary.