“Are These Fresh?”

Arugula

Every morning, my wife and I walk with one of our neighbors for an hour.  Usually we swing by her house on the way out of our sub-division onto the main road in the community.

This morning Lindie was waiting on our driveway as we opened up our garage door.  In her hand she had a bunch of greens. 

“It’s arugula that I just picked from my garden,” she explained.

“Can’t get any fresher than that,” I replied.

This reminded me of a story when my daughters were very young and we took them on a trip from Florida back up North to visit relatives on Long Island. 

In their community, there are well-known strawberry and raspberry fields where you can pick your own berries.  This is a fun activity for children and adults since, although discouraged, most people eat half of what they are picking before placing them in the containers to be weighed at the check-out station. 

I can still remember one of my daughters putting a raspberry on each of her fingers and then proceeding to eat each one individually.  As she did this, she asked me, “Daddy, are these fresh?”

“Are these fresh?”

Many years later while we were spending the summer of 2015 in Valencia, Spain, we used to go to the Central Market in the Old City (la Ciutat Vella) at least once a week to buy our groceries.  The place is famous for the best and freshest fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry and fish from the immediately surrounding areas. Valencia is right in the Green Belt of Spain, the major agricultural production area for so much of what is grown in Spain.

Our favorite vendor for Spanish hams and Spanish cheeses

We got to know the vendors in the Central Market and we enjoyed sampling their products.  Our favorite ham and cheese vendor let us try their extensive variety of different grades of local hams along with the famous Spanish sheep-milk and cow-milk cheeses.  They always gave us a little cup of the local red wine which we then eagerly bought for only 2 Euros a bottle.  Having a little taste of wine was always a fun indulgence at 10 in the morning.

Another favorite vendor was where many different varieties of lettuce and related greens were featured.  Our favorite product was the Spanish variety of arugula (“rúcula”). In Europe, it is known in English as rocket lettuce and has a much more pungent, peppery taste. One day they were completely out of the arugula. 

The vendor told us not to worry.  “Be patient.  The truck will be delivering it soon,” she said reassuringly.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“They’re still picking it right now in the field,” she explained.

I guess you can’t get fresher than that! 

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