I don’t know anyone who grows as excited about vegetables as the Chef does.
One afternoon, when I walked toward the restaurant with his coffee, he gestured me inside, wildly. “Look!” he shouted, his eyes wide. “Look at what arrived!”
Inside the restaurant, splayed out on the floor, were more than a dozen boxes of produce. The Charlie’s truck had arrived in the brief ten minutes when I had been gone. Each week, and sometimes twice a week, a man in a large white truck brings organic and local produce, the latest in season, to the Chef’s restaurant. It’s one of his favorite days of the week: the produce delivery day. The morning of those days, I sense his anticipation. We always leave for work a little early that day.
But on this particular afternoon, a couple of weeks ago, he was especially excited about the delivery. Inside were the first vegetables of spring.
“Ramps!” he said, pulling the long green strands from the box. “Smell.“
Before I met the Chef, I had never heard of ramps. Now, they have come to symbolize spring to me. Originally appearing wild in the southern part of the United States, they are now cultivated widely. Floppy and vivid green, they smell something like a particularly pungent onion and some ripe garlic.
The Chef loves them.
“Asparagus!” he shouted. Now that this delectable has been around for a couple of weeks, asparagus has grown more ubiquitous in the markets. But on that day, I hadn’t seen one in my hands in ten months or more. I stared at the little buds nestled in the tips of the asparagi, marveling at nature again.
“Sweetie, look, it’s English peas.” Firm and green, these had the crisp bite of a green vegetable that no winter-time morsel can ever provide.
The same day, we had stopped at the seafood store, and he had picked up a box of the first halibut of the season. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but before I went gluten-free, I had no idea that fish had a season, as much as vegetables. Now, we eat what is offered, when it arrives.
Excited by these bounties, the Chef ran back to the kitchen with the vegetables he had pulled out for me to see. He came back with this black plate, arranged with greens and firm-fleshed fish. “Take a picture!” he said.
And so I climbed up on a chair, and looked down at the bounty before me, through a camera lens. It’s spring, my love was beside me, bouncing on the heels of his hiking boots in his excitement, and there are — hopefully — many more seasons to come.
I snapped this picture.