I was shopping yesterday — trying on pants, trying to do my miniscule part to stimulate the economy — when I overheard some good old-fashioned winter bashing.
It’s hard not to eavesdrop in dressing rooms, and tougher still when just one cabin over the inhabitant (fellow economy stimulator) and her husband are debating the merits of flared vs. bootleg. The salesclerk came in to check on their progress, and, as conversations inevitably do, the talk turned to the weather.
“Oh, isn’t it such a nice day, blahblahblah,” they were saying, hinting at the 81 degree temperature high. They swapped places of origin (Husband: Minnesota; Salesclerk: Wisconsin) and made that all-too-often heard refrain around these “dry heat” parts: “This is why we live here,” chuckle, chuckle. “Who needs to shovel snow?” heh heh.
Ok, so I will concede that winter can be tough. Cold and wet are not for everybody. Frigid and icy can get old pretty fast.
But — and this is ‘but’ of experience, because I have lived in those cold/wet/frigid/icy winters and would go back in a heartbeat — winter is as worthy a season as any. I won’t enumerate for you the plentiful reasons I’m a winter junkie. But I would like to remind Mr. & Mrs. Shopper of yesterday of just one: the food.
If it weren’t for winter, we wouldn’t have all that winter squash. Or salsify and parsnips. Or mustard greens and radicchio. And Brussels sprouts — not my favorite by a long shot, but some people seem to really dig them.
Furthermore, if it weren’t for winter, we’d hardly want to simmer those hearty root vegetables for a soup. We wouldn’t have delicate, creamy leeks to saute. Or be able to dump some roasted, cubed butternut into a vegetarian chili.
Don’t forget the citrus: the grapefruit and tangelos we’ve been sustaining ourselves with around here are reason alone to love winter. Not to mention things like oysters.
So, I say enough with the winter bashing. Just go buy a little chard, the kind with the red stems, and marvel at the intersection of red veins and green leafiness. Then trim out the stems, stack the leaves, roll them up, and cut them crosswise into ribbons.
Toss them in a medium saucepan (in which you’ve just sauteed a couple cloves of garlic, minced, some chopped shallot, a tablespoon of tomato paste — in anticipation of summer — along with some salt and pepper).
Then watch — stirring often — as the pile of bright green sinks into a shiny, dark, wilted, fragrant tangle.
And then tell me why winter’s so terrible.