Peasant food: Making summer last


When I was four years old, my family moved from a small house in Fairfax, Virginia to a huge place a few miles outside of town. Although the geographical distance was minor, it led to some major changes in our lives. One of the biggies was farming.

We lived down the street from a formerly active farm. My parents made friends with the owner, Mr. Winfield, and he used to "loan" us a plot of farmland in which we would plant our own vegetable garden. For my parents, who had grown up in New York and Boston, it was perfect: they could get the family out in the sun, pretend that they were farmers, and provide us with fresh food. For the kids, it meant long hours weeding row after row of peas and gaining a much greater understanding of the wonders of the modern supermarket.

A few years later, I grew my own vegetable garden and gained a deeper understanding of my parents' excitement. Unlike the dull, flavorless produce in the supermarket, my peas, cucumbers, corn, and tomatoes were bright, fresh, and delicious. I realized that the vegetables that I was used to eating were only a pale reflection of the produce that I could grow. It was amazing.