Back in my maple syrup selling Friday afternoons at the Hardwick Farmers Market, I spent a lot of slow afternoons talking with the farmer whose booth was beside mine. One afternoon, I confessed the potato was not my favorite food.
The farmer was horrified. The potato, he informed me, is the queen of the vegetable kingdom.
I would have placed garlic on that throne, but he was adamant civilizations had hinged on this humble food. Touché, I finally acknowledged. He’s right. Garlic is savory, but the potato is substance. The truth is, my potato ignorance was extreme. My farmer friend introduced me to blue potatoes, to Purple Majesties, Russian bananas, and his prized fingerlings. While my infant daughter gnawed at my knuckles, he told me how to cook these beauties, too. A main component of my garden is now this queen, her star-shaped lavender and white blossoms opening wide, staple of ancient worlds, blight notwithstanding.
I eat these
wild red raspberries
still warm from the sun
and smelling faintly of jewelweed
in memory of my father…
with the sigh of a man
who has seen all and been redeemed
said time after time
as he lifted his spoon
men kill for this.
– Maxine Kumin