Thursday, May 12, 2011

eet is likah seaweed......

it's may and it's time, the only time, for the umbertide fruttovendolo (vegetable guy) to put the barba di frate (monk's beard) out in the market/grocery store. the only problem is, i have never seen this delightful vegetable in maine. have you? (up there above these scribbles i hope you guessed that's a picture of pretty looking, icky tasting....not that i have....daffodils, so unlike barba di frate, which is DELICIOUS. monk's beard looks kind of like chives, but tastes nothing like chives. i did not take a photo of it when i had the opportunity, so i had to make do with a picture of daffodils for an only-available-for-a-few-weeks-in-spring representation.)

the photo i should have taken of lovely, bright green monk's beard would have been in a london restaurant last may when i ate it for the first and only time. the heavily-accented waiter in this very good, very italian restaurant (most of the staff were yakking in italian) suggested i try it with my dinner. i remember he was a pleasant and gregarious sort of fellow. when i asked him what barba di frate is and where it grows he replied eet is likah seaweed, but eet is notta seaweed. riddle food. this was getting interesting. now i was curious indeed.

{chives, similar to barba di frate in appearance only}

the name of this wonderful vegetable does not describe it in the least. it is not at all hairy like a beard. yuck. nor is it like seaweed in taste or texture. it is nice and firm and has a good crunch, like lovely thin green beans. just a quick steam or a dunk in boiling water does the trick. it was served with a bit of lemon, and had a slightly salty taste because its natural growing habitat is in salty areas beside the sea (hence the waiter's indicating it was like seaweed), though tragically not the sea around here.

too bad when we scoot across the pond again in june it will be too late for barba di frate.

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