We\’re headed for the dog days now, and last week I pulled up the lettuces, which had grown to the size of small trees, as well as the mustard and arugula. That marked the beginning of our annual period of abstention from lettuce.
From late April through the beginning of July, we eat lettuce every day, lots of it. Then, it\’s over until the next spring. When the tomatoes ripen in August I serve them in splendid isolation, with oil and salt and pepper. The notion of tomatoes and lettuce together in a salad is an oxymoron, and an abomination unto Nature. Or just about.
We are not left entirely without raw greens by the lettuce\’s departure, however. Until November I can count on the young leaves of Swiss chard (de-stemmed) for sandwiches and things like pasta salads. But chard is too strong, both in flavor and texture, to use as a main salad ingredient. After the killing frosts, we abstain from raw greens altogether, and proceed to devour the broccoli, spinach, kale, chard, peas, beans, pumpkins, squash, eggplant, zucchini and tomato sauce that glut our freezer.
When the snow flies we eat raw carrots, which I don\’t grow but can buy at the farmers\’ market, and apples. (The latter, by the way, are the only locally grown item in the supermarket.) But supermarket lettuce and salad greens are shipped in huge trucks from god-knows-where, and it just doesn\’t feel right to eat them, in these apocalyptic days.
This kind of seasonal eating reminds me of an advantage of the rhythm method that I once saw listed in a Catholic publication. It said that by forcing couples to abstain from intercourse for certain periods each month, the rhythm method functions as a powerful aphrodisiac.
It\’s true: absence makes the mouth water. After a nine-month separation from lettuce, we seasonal eaters pounce on those first buttery, tender leaves like a horde of sex-crazed fiends.