Three years ago if you asked my children “What are greens?” They would have stared at you and said, “You mean like pea green or sea foam green?” Okay, only Ariel would have known that sea foam green is a color, but you get what I’m trying to say. My kids were Northern children and would have had no idea that you were asking them about food. If you made it clear to them that it was a vegetable discussion, they might have come up with broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, lettuce, and maybe even bok choy. But that would have been it.
One of our trips to Walmart brought it home to me.
Keller child, pointing to vegetable bin: Mom, what’s that?
Me, reading bin label: Mustard greens.
Keller kid, pointing to another bin: And that?
Me: Uh, Collard greens
Keller kid: And those weird things?
Me: Well, it looks sort of like kale, but the bin says “turnip greens.”
Keller kid: So, people actually eat that?
Keller kid: In a salad?
Me: No, they cook them
Keller kid: Why?
Keller kid: What do they taste like?
Me: No earthly idea.
Keller kid: They look gross.
Me: Yep—another reason to be thankful you eat at our house.
In our home, we tend to eat things that aren’t leftover when the plant has already been harvested for something else like turnips or mustard. (Though in all honesty, I don’t really know that mustard greens are what’s left over when you harvest mustard seeds.) But it seems like a good excuse to me.
The rest of the kids came in contact with “greens” when the church was collecting food for poor families in the neighborhood. Big baskets were left on a table at church, and members contributed to the baskets. My children were looking through the baskets and came across big cans of “greens.”
Keller kid, holding up a can of greens (not the one who accompanied me to Walmart): What is this?
KK: People eat this stuff?
Me: Some people.
KK: I thought you always said we were supposed to give the best of what we had to the Lord, instead of the stuff we wanted to get rid of.
(At this point a Southern church member gets involved.)
Church member: Honey, haven’t you ever had greens before?
Church member: Connie, you’ve had greens before, right?
Church Member: They’re delicious.
Me and KK, trying to humor obviously crazed church member: Really?
Church member: Yes.
Me: I think we’ll be sticking to salad and corn with our turkey.
Church member, feeling sorry for my deprived family: Oh.
I also don’t do yams/sweet potatoes/rutabagas/black-eyed peas. I have been known to eat hush puppies and lacey corn bread—but that’s the whole fat, flour, salt thing. Some people have tried to convince me that greens are cooked in fat, salt, etc., but I’m not buying it. I’ll stick to bok choy with green curry sauce.