Sunday, June 7, 2009

Local Produce Feature: Fiddleheads!!

Back in March, Michael Pollan came to visit Tufts on his book tour for "Omnivore's Dilemma". I felt pretty lucky to be able to see him speak since:

a) it was free
b) I had given an exam to my Nutrition students a few hours before and since Nutrition students are all food nerds like me, we all agreed instead of continuing with lecturing we would free ourselves up for this special lecture.

This is all a prelude to the fact that I will make an effort this spring/summer to feature things that I bought at the farmer's market or that is locally grown. So here is the first in the series.

I didn't know before I bought these fiddleheads that they are a unique delicacy to New England!! To tell you the truth, the sight of them kind of weirds me out. They look prehistoric and the curled up fronds look like a microbial trap. My google search of "fiddlehead food poisoning" confirms that there have been case reports. Seeing as I already enjoyed my dish several days ago and am typing sans violent GI symptoms, I'm guessing I cooked the heck out of them. At least I was not paralyzed by my public health practitioner side, right?

I've usually only had these with a bit of oil, butter and garlic, but I decided to try them in a stir fry with chicken, red peppers, garlic and black bean sauce. Delicious!


mini said...

i've seen these but never had fiddle heads before. how do they taste?

Jenny T. said...

Hi Mini -- if you had asked me this question 25 years ago, my response would have been "yucky". My mom used to feed these to me and I looked forward to them as much as most kids look forward to spinach or brussels sprouts!

I would say that they taste sort of like a gamey version of spinach? Maybe gamey is the wrong word... more earthy perhaps? If cooked right they should be tender but with a nice crunch to them, sort of the way I prefer broccoli to be.

I got a container of them at our local grocer in Charlestown for around 2 bucks and it made enough for 4 people, so even if you don't like them no huge harm done!