It was a weekend when my little brothers were all busy and my older sister was away. My dad told my mother and me that he was taking us out for dinner. We pulled up to a little tin building and got out of the car. The outside sported a simple wooden plaque that announced the name of the grange and a coat of arms. The inside smelled deliciously of ham and potatoes.
We stopped just inside the door to pay for what was advertised as that night’s dinner - “Dandelion greens served with baked ham, mashed potatoes, applesauce, devilled eggs, and dessert”. I was a little disgusted at the thought of eating dandelions, but not at all surprised that people here actually cooked them up and ate them; I grew up in an area where the name of our county was more commonly used as an adjective than a noun. Simply put, we were hicks, we were rednecks, we stood outside our houses amidst our Christmas lights in July and watched our toddlers streak naked across the yard, we were uneducated (and those of us who got an education never came back to stay), and we were way more familiar with the smell of cow and the putt-putt of a tractor than that of roses and the almost unnoticeable hum of a hybrid car.
Dandelion greens, it turns out, can be fixed in multiple ways. Ours were boiled, I believe, with a thin dressing and bacon tossed on them. Feeling braver than my usual self, I did try them that night. As I crunched and munched on the first forkful that I had shoved in my mouth, I thought, ‘These aren’t so bad’. They did, after all, taste like bacon. However, by the time that I had finished chewing, the bitterness of the weed seeped into my mouth, and it was all that I could do to swallow that one bite. My thoughts on the food quickly changed to ‘Eeech. Who eats these things?’ After that, I stuck to ham and mashed potatoes the rest of the night.
Just in case you get the itch to give dandelion greens a try someday, here's the recipe to "Dandelion Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing from epicurious.com.
Feel free to comment and tell me about the most interesting food you’ve ever tried! Happy living!