Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Silverbeet: Five Colors Plus One I'd Never Tasted Before

Barbara Kingsolver claims the one vegetable she would save, if she were taken away to a place where she could only have one vegetable, is the silverbeet, aka Swiss chard.

The magical thing about the silverbeet is that it grows up, in a single bunch from a single root, with five different-colored stalks. Red-orange-yellow-pink-white.

I cooked this using Kingsolver's recipe; onion/garlic in olive oil, then add the silverbeet and a protein (I picked chickpeas!), serve over rice. (Yes, I subbed in asefoetida for the onion.)

There it is from the top; you can see the steam.

I'd never eaten Swiss chard/silverbeet before. Never ever. Eating it was like discovering a new color. It was so different that I stopped and turned off Jon Stewart so I could focus solely on the experience of eating the silverbeet.

It's hard to say exactly what the silverbeet tasted like, because it didn't taste like anything else I had ever tasted. It was very good. It had a hint of an artichoke-leaf taste. Parts of it were bitter, but parts of it seemed sweet. It tasted much better cooked than raw (I know, because I tried a raw leaf and it just tasted like a leaf), but it's hard to describe exactly what it tasted like except that the whole experience was just fascinating. (Now I know how that guy who discovered umami felt like.)

I know, I know, I'm going on and on about a chard. ^__^

Still, it's not every day one gets to taste something completely new and exciting. The people behind Coke or McDonalds or Ben & Jerry's spend their entire working lives trying to create this experience. I should send them all silverbeets.

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