Veg wars

Jan Ether­ing­ton asks why God cre­ated such an ak­ward veg­etable as the but­ter­nut squash

EADT Suffolk - - Inside - Jan Ether­ing­ton

IN the begin­ning, God cre­ated the heaven and earth – and I like to think He did it in March. It makes sense. It’s a good month for plant­ing things.

I was pon­der­ing all this, while walk­ing around the gar­den cen­tre, try­ing to de­cide what crops to grow, in my veg­etable gar­den. There are a num­ber of in­con­gru­ous state­ments in that pre­vi­ous sen­tence. ‘Crops’ im­plies quan­tity and A Plan, while ‘Veg­etable Gar­den’ con­jures up walled acreage, with paths, raised beds and a wheel­bar­row-tot­ing grounds­man.

My veg­etable gar­den is the size of a mod­est dining ta­ble. Two peo­ple can, barely, fit into it – and if one bends over, hoe­ing, the other will be pitched into the firepit. But all it con­tains is my failed at­tempt at as­para­gus. ‘Don’t touch it for two years!’ a gardening chum ad­vised. It’s been five years now and it still re­sem­bles a bit of fos­silised, chewed string.

Any­way, back at the Bi­ble. On the third day, God cre­ated fruit and veg­eta­bles. No, I didn’t make that up. In Ge­n­e­sis it says, “God said ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yield­ing seed and the fruit tree yield­ing fruit.’ And God saw that it was good.” Oh re­ally? All of it? How closely did he look at the but­ter­nut squash? I can see why he cre­ated it, be­cause it tastes lovely but why didn’t He make a bet­ter job of the de­sign? It re­quires bi­ceps of steel just to peel it.

Lots of fruit and veg are easy­peasy – the cu­cum­ber, the banana and the ap­ple (al­though Eve may not agree) have min­i­mum prepa­ra­tion time and max­i­mum en­joy­ment. Some, like peas, have pods - but shelling them is sur­pris­ingly ther­a­peu­tic, so that’s OK. But it’s no sur­prise that the most pop­u­lar use for the rhi­noc­eros-hide pump­kin is to scoop it out and put a can­dle in­side, for Hal­lowe’en. And even that takes the best part of a morn­ing and you need a nap, af­ter­wards. I did once grow a but­ter­nut squash. Just the one. I car­ried it, tri­umphantly, into the kitchen and then looked at it for two days. I knew I had to be in peak phys­i­cal fit­ness to tackle it, so I went for a run. Then I rolled up my sleeves and got out my big­gest and heav­i­est knife. It was so labour in­ten­sive, I had to go to the physio the fol­low­ing week. I know what you’re go­ing to say – you can buy all these awkward veg­gies ready pre­pared - peeled, cubed, de-pithed. But that seems so lazy and ‘pre-pack­aged’.

It’s not just veg that have de­sign flaws. There’s some awkward fruit as well. The first is the mango. What a swizz! You peel it, try to cut it in half and ‘thunk!’ – you hit the en­do­carp (tough core). I love mango but it could have been bet­ter thought out. I don’t mean to be dis­re­spect­ful to Him but that’s what hap­pens if you rush it. Try­ing to cre­ate ev­ery­thing in seven days means you miss the fine de­tails and the mango al­most wins the prize as Most An­noy­ing Fruit. But the win­ner of Most An­noy­ing Fruit ever is . . . the pome­gran­ate. First, you have to put on a pinny, be­cause when you cut it, it will squirt. Big time.

Se­condly, you have to nav­i­gate your way through yards of pith to get to the seeds. It’s a messy busi­ness. As I dis­cov­ered, one morn­ing, when I walked into the kitchen and saw what looked like the open­ing scene of a Quentin Tarantino movie. All the work sur­faces were spat­tered blood red and our young English Set­ter, Jag­ger, ap­peared to be bleed­ing from his mouth. How­ever, he was bounc­ing around, do­ing cart­wheels in his usual way, so I looked closer. Yes, he’d stolen a pome­gran­ate from the fruit bowl. And I must say, he’d done a much bet­ter job of dig­ging out the seeds than I could.

I’m leav­ing a but­ter­nut squash on the work­top tonight. See how that goes . . .

‘But how closely did he look at the but­ter­nut squash? I can see why he cre­ated it, be­cause it tastes lovely but why didn’t He make a bet­ter job of the de­sign?’

Above: One of these re­quires an enor­mous amount of phys­i­cal ef­fort, the other is a game of squash

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.