Calvin: Why are you crying mom?
Mom: I’m cutting up an onion.
Calvin: It must be hard to cook if you anthrpomorphisize your vegetables.
― Bill Watterson,
One of my goals this summer is to learn how to cook healthier. Like most things in life, this is easier said than done, especially when my culinary knowledge is severely lacking (e.g. I can name more works by Charles Dickens than I can herbs and spices).
Thus, following a recipe takes a lot of private consulting with Google, YouTube, and my mother. I’ve been humbled through the process, often having to step out of my comfort zone of cereal and milk. And I mean that “stepping out part” literally; I’ve spent much more time walking around in a daze, up and down grocery store aisles in the search of strange, obscure ingredients.
Well, strange to me. I imagine that more experienced cooks aren’t as bewildered as I was when a recipe called for two cups of chopped fennel. I had no clue what fennel was, nor did anyone in my family. So I googled it and up came a picture of something that resembled an onion’s cousin. Fennels have a white bulb too, but have multiple long, green stalks. If vegetables were Pokemon, onions would surely evolve into fennels.
The next step was finding it in a grocery store. I silently wished google could also direct me to the precise location of this so called “fennel” but alas, some small unknowns will always exist in the mundane. When I finally did find it among all the leafy greens, I held the bulb in my hand with a little bit of trepidation. What part of this am I supposed to chop? The leaves, the stalks, or the bulb?
I sighed and moved on to the next unfamiliar ingredient, which happened to be an herb called marjoram. This one proved to be harder to find. My search eventually led me to an unvisited corner of the store, a small section of wall covered with little pouches of stuff that would probably make me sneeze. My eyes looked over the weird names until I found a pouch that read: MARJORAM. The tag said something about these little green thingies being a cure-all for everything, but it didn’t really jump out at me since most of the herbs claimed things like helping with cholesterol, diabetes, and bringing people back from the near-dead. Okay, I may or may not have paid much attention to the small print…
When the cashier rang up all my funny-looking groceries, she asked if I was making some sort of stew.
“Uh, no. I’m making a mediterranean style chicken with a bunch of herbs and vegetables.”
“Oh, dang girl! That sounds good! I can’t cook anything like that. You must be a chef!” She said genuinely, casting the fennel a curious glance.
I smiled back nervously.
If you only knew… If you only knew…