Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fiddleheads, the Extraterrestrial Vegetable

Tell the truth: If you came across this
in the woods. Would you eat it?
I walk into a country store in Vermont. The woman behind the counter is rinsing and trimming green things that look like green beans encircling dollops of pesto. It looks like something brought here from outer space. Something that was deposited into our rich soil to take root and when it grows, will eat earthlings to make room for the race of three-eyed Martians coming over later. I ask her what it is and she says "these are fiddleheads. They are ferns that grow in the woods. This is what they are before they have sprouted." I ask if people buy them and plant them like tulip bulbs. She looks at me like I am insane and says 'you eat them."

Or, $12.99 a pound
No, this is not the point when I woke up from a dream. This is the actual account of my afternoon on Saturday, crossing Vermont on a road trip with my mom. Yes, it is possible that after 72 hours in a car with my mom, I have crossed the barrier from sanity to complete lunacy, (more on that later), but that is not the case here. By traveling through Vermont and stopping at a small country store, I have been introduced to a new (although possibly an outer space) vegetable. 

Ferns are something I use to decorate the house and garden. I have never considered eating them. I have a cereal that my friends call my 'mulch munch' because they say it looks like twigs, leaves and mulch. Now I am told that ferns, before sprouting, are edible? Holy Crap Batman! People are eating houseplants before they become houseplants?? 

My fiddleheads. My cousin's oven
I asked her how they were prepared. She explained that she roasted them like peppers in the oven or on the grill, with a touch of oil and a hint of salt. I never heard of them before and quite honestly they looked like food for Space-Triffids here to settle their colony, but I bought a 1/2 pound and cooked them at my cousin's house two days later. My cousin not only knew of fiddleheads, she even had a copy of a gourmet magazine with fiddleheads pictured on the cover. What a funny coincidence. 


Fiddleheads are tasty. They taste like a combination of green beans and baby spinach. They have a good texture. They cook easy. There is no peeling or cleaning besides a quick rinsing. They are low in calories and they are a new vegetable on my table. Once cooked, you can pick them up by the green-bean looking tail and pop them into your mouth like a snack. I love a good, healthy snack. I like fiddleheads - but they still look like alien food.

Now a quick Mom story update. In all good humor, there are moments when we drive each other crazy. Being alone together in a car for hours on end can be hellish unless you remember to not take yourself too seriously. We kept things light and it makes all the difference at the end of each day. At one point, 265 miles from her home, I turned to mom and said I was leaving her on the side of the road and calling my brother and sister and telling them where they could find her. Mom replied "do you think they would come and get me?" I said "No, they would ask me what was wrong with me that it took me 265 miles to throw you out of the car when they would have done it in under ten." 

Have you ever eaten fiddleheads? How do you cook them? Do you eat a vegetable no one else ever heard of? Are you sure it is not from outer space?



Anonymous said...

My first exposure to Fiddleheads was in a soup I ate earlier this year. It was Delish! I can't buy them around here (PA), but if I could, I would eat them all the time. Very good and nutrious!

Vickie said...

have never heard of them either. Are they available in Florida?

bbubblyb said...

Nope never heard of them but they sound interesting. Your mom story made me laugh, glad you two can laugh about stuff, humor is always a good thing :)

Caron said...

I lived in Vermont for a few years and never had fiddleheads but I did try dandelion greens.

I was at a play group and a couple of the other mothers were discussing them and how to pick and cook. I was in my front lawn on my hands and knees picking them before they bloomed. I didn't have many but they were delicious. My husband thought I was a little crazy and told me NOT to give any to the babies. :)

Unknown said...

Ah, I'm glad you still have fun with your food, Jane. So cool.

:-) Marion

E. Jane said...

I have never heard of them, but I would like to try them.

I enjoyed your story about your mom. I still say you are a wonderful daughter!

Ice Queen said...

Fiddleheads! Om nom, nom, nom!

You know triffids... :D

Noxluna13 said...

Thank you for introducing us to Fiddleheads. They look alien enough that my family just might eat them with a sense of humor. I'll look for them in my health food store. The strangest thing I have eaten recently is Chia seeds. Every time I have them I can't get the song from the commercial out of my head "ch-ch-ch-chia".

Maren said...

I've never tried them, didn't even know they were edible! How fun!

sixty-five said...

I snagged some at Whole Foods yesterday. I believe they are available through local sources only for a short season, and not commercially grown.

Sarah said...

Never heard of those. The first thing I thought of when I saw them was baby triffids!

Vickie said...

are you doing okay?

Anonymous said...

I second Vickie's May7th question!

How ARE you?? Hugs from HeatherInTX

:O) ~~~~~

Jane Cartelli said...

I am sorry to be so quiet this week. I am finding reentry to be a bitch this week. Too much going on all burners. I am overwhelmed but holding on - but barely. Bad headache for two days right now. Hope to see it leave overnight. I think there was caffeine in my coffee a few days on the trip w/o my consent) and I know on my last day I had a diet pepsi that was not caffeine free. I didn't even think about the caffeine until the next day. That tells me I was ready to come home.

Anonymous said...

Awwww, hope you are feeling much better today!!

Take care,

HeatherInTX :O) ~~~~~

Lisa said...

I see fiddleheads at Farmers Markets here in Portland and I have never tried to eat it. I'm curious too.

Jane Cartelli said...

Buy them! You will love them. drizzle with evoo, roast in the oven a few minutes. sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy.