Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Trying stuff


The farmer's market on Locust Street mid-day Sundays has the cheapest prices around. For $1 each, I picked up bunches of basil, chard, a box of sugar snap peas, and something called "Chinese spinach" the seller assured me I would love.

Tonight, making pasta with garbanzo beans and spinach, I thought I'd try the Chinese spinach. It was a little strong tasting, so I set it aside pending further investigation and used the chard instead.

Turns out it's the ancient and beloved amaranth, much richer in nutrients than spinach. Its seeds, like quinoa and buckwheat, are a rich source of protein. In Mexico City, they sell them toasted with chocolate and puffed rice.

Amarant is served with everything in parts of Africa, and in the Yoruba language it's called arowo jeja, or "we have money left for fish." The Greeks also eat it boiled with fish; in India it's made into a dal. I don't know if the Hopi Indians eat it, but they once used the flower to make a passionately deep red dye.

The ancients revered the amaranth, which was supposed to be sacred to Ephesian Artemis and have special healing powers, perhaps including imortality. You'll see it on tombs and images of the gods.

Here, where we don't have much patience with mythology, we call it pig weed, and farmers hate it. One variety has proven its imortality by evolving resistance to Round-up and most other herbicides.

It's possible for amaranth to have a lot of oxyalic acid, and they say people with gout might want to stay away. Dogs can become ill from eating it. Mine, Idgy, despises all vegetables except grass, preferably recently dressed with a heavy spray of harmful chemicals.

But I'm feeling brave and inspired by Aesop, who wrote:

        A Rose and an Amaranth blossomed side by side in a garden,
        and the Amaranth said to her neighbour,
        "How I envy you your beauty and your sweet scent!
        No wonder you are such a universal favourite."
        But the Rose replied with a shade of sadness in her voice,
        "Ah, my dear friend, I bloom but for a time:
        my petals soon wither and fall, and then I die.
        But your flowers never fade, even if they are cut;
        for they are everlasting."

I'll try it tomorrow, maybe with oyster sauce. Or garlic and balsamic vinegar. We'll have money left for fish. If it's good, I might try scouting it up from the weeds that grow all around us.

And speaking of scouting for free stuff, this entire blog would not have been possible without Wikipedia.

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