Upon hearing the word salad my son’s face reveals disgust or despair or just plain irritation. He actually eats bean, grain or pasta or potato salads and in a pinch even a grated vegetable salad but any kind of green salad has been rejected outright for years. He eats cooked greens in every form but NOT as a salad.
However, he devours fennel fronds and mint walking around the neighborhood and he couldn’t get enough raw pea shoots at a friend’s house for dinner recently. So last week he and I picked fennel fronds from a nearby parking strip, mint coming through a brick wall at the neighbors and pea shoots from our back yard. We washed and dried our loot and Ellis arranged it on our dinner plates. He munched away happily and had seconds, maybe thirds. I brought some olive oil, salt and lemon juice to the table for mine but found that the plain greens were actually a lovely change to our usual dressed ones.
A wonderful piece in today’s Oregonian about Xico Owner and Chef Kelly Myers reminded me of the joy and importance of cooking (or in this case gathering) with children and letting them have some agency in what and how we prepare and eat. I have my idea of what a salad should be but so does Ellis! And another recent article about urban foraging and all the edibles in our back yards and parking strips is an inspiration to do more family foraging and expand our notion of dinner.