Back in September, fueled by a diet of mealy apples and concern about global warming, I signed up for a CSA share. CSA stands for “community supported agriculture;” it’s a small farm that sells food directly to, you got it, members of the community. Mine is called Johnson’s Backyard Garden and every Saturday I walk into a stranger’s carport to pick up my weekly dose of organic vegetables, which the farm has graciously delivered to my neighborhood.
What I’m going to call “the vegetable experiment” came after Mother’s Café, my most dependable supplier of delicious vegetables, burned down this spring. Mother’s, home of the Bueno Burger and a fantastic salad dressing, was sorely missed, and I unwisely thought I could recreate its delights in my own home. No. Saturdays are when I realize that I still have a pound of okra and a pound of collard greens left over from last week, and panic starts to strike. I have a shelf full of yellow squash. I have three bags of basil. I’ll never finish this food.
I find myself spending the middle of my nights in the kitchen, cooking vegetables and chastising myself for even thinking of letting that squash go bad. On the one hand, the profusion of produce is a good thing. I’m supporting local business, sustainable farming practices, and good nutrition. If I cook for my friends, I think, they will love me more. On the other, this is one scenario in which Ann Patchett’s “Seven Reasons the Food Tastes Better at Home” do not apply. For weeks now, I’ve been unsuccessfully seeking a recipe that calls for five eggplants, a butternut squash, and eight Cubanelle peppers. But all I want is a Bueno Burger. I’ve wanted a Bueno Burger since April. I know how to make many a vegetable dish—my repertoire has expanded since the vegetable experiment began—but I do not know how to make a Bueno Burger.
Thank God Mother’s is back.