Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I was just listing some of the fresh herbs that we will bring to market for the "In Season" section of this web site. The spell checker didn't like the word "Arugula". When I right-clicked for its suggestions, I got "argyle", "regular", and "Uruguay"! Obviously my spell-check program needs to get a little more hip! With the growing interest in fresh vegetables and traditional cuisine, Arugula, though admittedly more popular in Europe, has become at least familiar to many American shoppers.

We were the first growers to bring Arugula to the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market. Sometimes we called it "Rocket", which is an English version of the French name, "Roquette". Arugula is the Italian name of this tantalizingly spicy/nutty flavored herb, and this is the name that seems to be winning out.

I remember early days offering customers a taste of this unfamiliar green. I also remember the customer who, after her first taste, widened her eyes, screwed down the corners of her mouth, and announced I had ruined her day! And then there was the customer who was delighted to find bunches of Arugula on our table after just returning from Italy. When I asked her how she ate Arugula in Italy, she lowered her voice, dropped her head, looked side to side, and whispered, "With raw meat." I think she was worried about being carried off by the Veg-Police in this vegetarian-friendly town. Despite never tasting the dish, I can see how the sprightly flavor of Arugula could share the plate with a raw meat dish and not get upstaged.

We mostly take our Arugula in salads. It is one of the key ingredients of our salad mix, which is also an item that we were first to introduce to the Farmer's Market. But that's another story. For now, I'll just appreciate those bright little red lines that embellish the word "Arugula" each time I type it. They remind me how special this herb is, and also let me feel a rare superiority to my computer. Substitute "Argyle" for "Arugula"? Now really!


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