Back in the day, when I had my season ticket for one (1) for the Houston Grand Opera, the fact of having a season ticket compelled me to make huge efforts to get to that opera I had already paid for. Because of that season ticket, I saw not only the amazing Cecilia Bartoli in Cenerentola, but also pretty random, obscure operas. Like Gertrade Stein's Four Saints in Three Acts. Never ever would have gone to that, even if I am a literary Paris 1920s groupie. Result: Loved it. Quirky, weird. Visually stunning when the HGO did it.
And so it is going to be true, I see already, with my subscription to the Greenling organic produce home delivery service.
I will be meeting a founder of La Ruche qui dit oui when in Paris here soon, an organic, fresh produce delivery service in France, so it seemed right that I needed to get down to the business of getting familiar with the organic farm-fresh produce delivery situation here in Austin.
I signed up for the service over lunch last week at Second. No brainer I wanted the "Local Box." No substitutions: just picks of what's best that week from local-ish farms. And a delivery every two weeks. Once a week is no bueno with just me and the son.
My first box, crate, or bin, rather, arrived. But not until like almost 8 p.m. on the one of two delivery days that I chose. The experience so far:
Pretty easy interface for the website. I was on the tiny iPhone; as I am over 45, and having increadingly difficult time navigating that tiny wondrous phone/computer to do intensive data entry, the fact that even I was able to do it says something.
The delivery experience/presentation. I am not sure what I was expecting about this first delivery. A gorgeous richly textured handwoven artisanal basket with funky handle and weave? Darling rustic and exotic-looking of colors or ribbons a la Williams Sonoma? But when I got the green plastic bin, and first opened it after scampering back with it to the kitchen, I was underwhelmed. Is this it? This for my $40 something? ($10 deposit on the bin; you set it out when the next delivery comes but they will spot you a few times and remind you to return the create/bin from the last visit on the next delivery cycle, please, before they ding you for it.)
The Produce. I started going through the items in the bin. The first item I pick up for study was probably the smallest head of red leaf lettuce I have ever seen. It was adorable. Like Ina had gone out into her garden and picked it right up out of there for a lovely weekday lunch for her Hampton friends, or a beach lunch with Jeffrey on the weekend. I had two of those little heads of lettuce.
The List of Stuff: good, helpful explanations. I realized there also was placed in the crate a list of the items, which included the name of which nearby farm grew the item. Good thing there was a list. I never would have guessed why I was getting a HUGE, giant bunch of ginger. (And that would be because it was not ginger. It was what I would learn, after research, was sunchokes.)
And then I got more excited as I dug in. Beets! Goodie! A beautifully formed green bell pepper! A not so beautifully formed bunch of radishes! And then I saw the real star. A big frothy frilly bunch of this.
Thinking it was rocket lettuce, I made a salad immediately. Used part of that and an entire (tiny, tiny) head of red leaf lettuce. Radishes. And some of the many various brands of roasted almonds with sea salt I have on hand these days. And the go-to dressing these days: fancy olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, sea salt, pepper.
Back to the list for the Local Box items: Rocket lettuce is nowhere on there. But there is Mizuna. I look it up. Yep, that must be it. Looks like rocket lettuce/arugula. Related to mustard greens. How cool do I feel. Never heard of it. (I really should get out more. Working on that.)
Also in the green plastic bin: bok choy. Never had it. Lovely parsley. (I have had parsley before.) Two grapefruits. Those two grapefruits at first glance not too stunning. But today, I cut into the grapefruit to accompany what I now know is Mizuna, not rocket lettuce. This grapefruit is spectacular: everything you want in a grapefruit. Explosion of tartness and that wildly bright color.
Only much later did I realize that the folks at Greenling had done me another huge favor. Not only did they include a sheet of paper listing all the produce and their provenance, and in the order in which the produce should be eaten based on the time in which each one will remain fresh for optimal enjoyment. On the reverse side there are recipes for many of the items. Good thing. I've never had bok choy before, but I of course I will eat it now. It was in my basket. I paid good money to have that bok choy delivered to my door. And of course those sunchokes. Cannot wait to try this recipe for roasted sunchokes. Delighted to learn that I do not need to peel the rough outer layer as with ginger (which it very much resembles). Just scrub. Perfect for the time-pressed gourmande.
I admit, with some shame, that in preparation for this delivery, I had to throw away a lot of produce I had not gotten around to eating (and it was in the mushy phase). It is shameful that waste. Melissa tells me she can work up a nice composting routine for me.
This wastefulness is one of my big ticket environmental, food-consciousness issues to work on this year. As elitist as this luxury seems, of getting farm-fresh local produce delivered to my door, I feel much more committed to actually consuming it.
Sure, it is a great cause and story that Greenling offers. But it also is a good story if I can cut down on waste and get committed to this new angle of healthy eating and supporting my community.
I will stick with my subscription because who knows what else I have been missing out there all my life. Because of it, I can already add mizuna and sunchokes to my list of "been there done thats." Just like the Gertrude Stein opera.