In Enid Blyton’s universe, the children buy food from farms owned by kind people whenever they’re off on their adventures. They eat tomatoes, they drink fresh, creamy milk, all the while enjoying some jolly fat ices. Reading Famous Five always sent me scampering to the refrigerator. Munch went the tomatoes. Crunch went the carrots. Many were the tomatoes that “went” with Rabindranath Tagore, Sarojini Naidu, and Huckleberry Finn.
Imagine my surprise when I read in some parenting book or email or blog that I should hide the vegetables in seemingly unhealthy concoctions so that my child will lap it up. This is not even an isolated statement. I read it everywhere, it seems to me. What? But why? They taste so good! As I remember it, my siblings and I always tried to ascertain that we got at least as much of a vegetable as the other, and if it looked like we got at least one piece more than the other, even better.
Why this difference? It got me wondering. And the answers came to me, all wrapped up in my Eastern heritage. It is the way we package them. They aren’t just cut up, steamed and seasoned with salt and pepper, if that. We cut them up and transform them into dishes with a variety of spices, styles of cooking, even different oils used for cooking.
What about raw vegetables, you ask?
My mother bought the vegetables from a small vendor who bought the vegetables the same morning from farmers around the city. Local, always in season, and fresh. Mangoes came only in the summers. Lemons were plentiful in the winter. Not having been told to eat his spinach by pop-eye, my husband doesn’t like it very much. Yet, when July rolls around, he’ll be buying 2 bags a week from the market. Of his own accord. Local, fresh, at its peak flavour. We’ll eat each vegetable for its own distinctive taste.
And the Case of the Disappearing Tomatoes and Carrots should be proof enough.