End of summer blues or end of summer peace. Hard to tell sometimes when the sky is so gray all day you never see the sun, after a summer of hot and sunny days. But the golden beet at dinner tonight, alongside it’s sauteed greens, cooked two nights ago, soaking two days in the fridge in their brine of vinegars, lightly coated with butter, is a high, with flavor I delight in but can’t describe. Last night it was the patty pan squash, oddball shape, variegated green and white and yellow skin, pale insides, near translucent seeds, bursting with the flavor of the garden at Atherton farm, a taste again I don’t have words to describe, subtlety in fresh local produce touches my palate in ways I can only taste, not articulate.

What do we lose when what we mostly eat is from the supermarket, often frozen, or on the shelves under controlled conditions so very, very long? This is not the food I serve my day care kids, the golden beet (which by the way is striped inside like a candy cane when you slice it raw before cooking, so gorgeous in magenta and snow bright I have to walk the house and show the slices off to my boys at their computers, the wonders of in person, rooted things so far from the world of the internet they barely look up, but when they do, they are impressed), nor the greens, nor the pattypan, nor the zuchini, nor the summer squash, nor the fresh green bean, nor the collard or the rainbow chard, nor the lemon cucumber nor the butter head lettuce nor the orange tomato.

What are these kids missing? Would they eat these delicious foods if I offered them? Will they eat them when they grow up, or will they be like some I have known who prefer their vegetables canned, their fruit preserved, fearing variety and sublety and knock your socks off flavor, in favor of the institutional, the uniform, the predictable, the no fear types of foods, processed pastas, white rice (cook in a bag, Minute Rice, Uncle Ben’s), plain bagels, cream cheese, Cheerios? All those foods you can count on not to surprise are the ones which many love.

Give me golden beets and patty pan any day. Best day of all though is mid to late August, when the weather is less than fine and the flavors are at their peak. How not to appreciate the end of summer when those flavors are in your mouth and the wool socks are on your feet?

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