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Commentary: Vegetables as Art on Kitchen Counter

By Lois O'Brian

Buffalo, NY – It's too bad I don't like eggplant. It's too bad you have to salt them and drain them before cooking them. Their seductive purple shapes shining in the morning sun are beguiling. Even the smaller, rounder white ones tempt me. Is this a taste I should acquire, a technique I should master?

I buy the green beans. They also come in yellow. The next lady buys two quarts of the yellow, saying simply bean soup . The farmer says his kids boil up a couple of quarts each night to eat as they sit and watch TV.

One pint of raspberries left. The recipe calls for blackberries, but these tiny tender red beads, composed of even tinier tender red beads, should do just fine. They are expensive, but there probably won't be any more til next year.

Weeds! That's what those jack-o-lantern plants are. I buy two bunches of the showy orange globes with pointy bottoms to put in a vase in my dining room. I don't have such decorative weeds growing in my garden and company is coming.

Just before dinner I snap off the stem ends of the beans and line them up evenly in the small skillet I have chosen for steaming them. They are superb. They should be called haricot vert. They are too good for ordinary English.

The next week I return to the market. I pass the green, the red and the purple grapes. We'd already picked grapes from the vine at a farm over the weekend.

It seems to be cabbage season now. I buy a huge head of curly leafed green cabbage and a nice white cauliflower. The farmer suggests one of her sweet onions and a red bell pepper to grate together with the cabbage for an easy slaw. Too late I see the Brussels sprouts still attached to their spine. The farmer assures me there will be plenty more of this fascinating vegetable next week.

Beets are such a beautiful color, it is difficult not to buy them, but, like the eggplant, I have yet to develop a taste for them. Instead I choose the turnips, only half as pretty as beets, purple on top, but white on the bottom. As a child I dreaded turnips, now I crave them mashed with milk and butter. There's hope for beets and eggplant.

Home again, the vegetables make art on my kitchen counter. And they are art, uncooked, unseasoned and still warm from the sun.

Listener-Commentator Lois O'Brian lives in the Town of Tonawanda.