Last week my friend was in Richmond, eating at a swanky “farm” restaurant. He ordered the pork. It came on a bed of polenta and mustard greens. He can never pass up greens.
A bite in and he knew what every good southern would know. He was eating gritty greens.
When the waiter checked in he tried explaining the situation.
“You may want to tell your chef that the greens didn’t get good and washed.”
The waiter stared dumbly at the plate.
“The greens,” he said gently. “They’re gritty.”
Silence. What we got here is...failure to communicate.
“Ya’see,” he tried again. “I suspect that these greens were picked fresh, a day or two after the last big rain.” The waiter shifted impatiently. “When there’s a big rain, like the one we just had, the dirt splashes up on the greens. Then ya’ got a real mess. Takes several washings to clean out the grit.”
“Would you like a new dinner?”
“Heck no, I grew up eating gritty greens.” He smiled at the waiter and watched the young man’s discomfort grow. “Just never thought I’d pay thirty dollars for the pleasure.”
I think of that story tonight, and will every Wednesday night, as I hunch over the sink, triple washing my greens and hoping that this week no one eats sand.
Here’s to the farm-to-table movement. May it always stay close, but not too close, to the farm.