Broad beans and blueberries
Blueberries are just about the only food, or thing in general, I can think of that I still love just as much and in the same way as I did when I was a small child. Maybe spaghetti, or Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, but I’ve acquired more sophisticated (though not snobbish, at least compared to Continental friends’) ideas about how spaghetti sauce should be made, and even about preparing the noodles themselves; and though I’m capable of enjoying NxNW perhaps even more than in boyhood, because more richly, provided I take my time and space the screenings out properly, it will never again make me tremble or laugh like the first time. So blueberries, as the enduring popularity of the bland anti-dramatic children’s book Blueberries for Sal testifies, are the only pleasure that maintain the same intensity and purity, whether eaten by themselves or with milk in a bowl of corn flakes.
Broad beans, on the other hand, constitute a new pleasure for me. I tasted them for the first time about a week ago. Broad beans look a bit like lima beans and for a while last year, when I first began to hear and learn about broad beans (called bob in Polish, with a slash over the o, which means you pronounce it “boob,” in the nominative case that is, fortunately in the other six cases the slash disappears and the o becomes a long o as in rodeo), I thought they were lima beans, but broad beans, or boobs, are in fact thicker and rounder, and have a little protrusion at one end, almost comparable to a nipple in fact, that I don’t think lima beans do. (Here any parallel with mammary glands ends and would best be swiftly forgotten in order to avoid a Peebee Shelley type nightmare.) They also have a skin that loosens when boiled; you bite the skin to open it and then suck the inner bean out and eat it, tossing the skin in the bin-- unless you want to eat it, but many people derive an addictive satisfaction from the ritual just described. Either way broad beans are delicious, though unfortunately the flavor is not as rich as the aroma from the boiling pot.
Two great gifts of Mother Nature, one tart, dark and explosive, the other light, tantalizing and tightly packed, both in season just now in Poland—when you’re surrounded by little Mom&Pop vegetable stands as I am, you can’t help following the seasons in a way I never did before. I guess technically my enjoyment of blueberries has changed since the great big bulbous blueberries I grew up with, lighter in color on the outside, are hard to find in Poland—they call them “American blueberries,” and their size is of course popularly attributed to laboratory skullduggery … I’ve actually come to prefer the smaller, darker ones myself. But that’s a mere detail. As Shakey said, the ripeness is all.