I just harvested the first carrots out of the garden. There were a few that looked ready to pluck; the orange and purple root rose from the dirt with vibrant greens reaching for the sky.
I’ve never been successful growing long, slender carrots and this year looks to be no different. Although, I admit, expectations were high. With each wheelbarrow of dirt shoveled into the new raised beds it was the carrots I dreamed of. I figured with fresh loamy soil, free from rocks and roots, this was the year. Any dashed expectations and disappointments vanish the moment I bite into the freshly hose-washed carrot.
Every house we lived in growing up had some sort of garden. Too busy playing in the woods, selling lemonade or bunches of wildflowers to the neighbors, I paid little attention to the garden. Our gardens were never big enough to demand my assistance. The weeds were managed by my dad in between time at the office or writing in his study. The only time I took interest in the garden was when the carrots were ready.
The difference between the grocery store carrots and the ones I dig up and eat while standing in the garden shocked me even as a child. It’s as if they were two separate beings, similarly shaded in orange but that’s where all commonality ceases. Carrots from the garden make me understand why someone ever thought to bake them into a cake. They’re sweet, tender, almost creamy - in flavor, not texture. The bite is snappy but not tough. They don’t crack on your teeth but quickly yield to a bite while still pleasantly crisp. They’re undeniably earthy, but that, I’m left wondering, could be from the hasty washing from the hose.
The first carrots need to be ceremoniously eaten while still standing in the garden. With nothing to adorn them. An honest reminder that as a cook, sometimes my job is to resist any fuss. Perhaps more of a suggestion than a recipe yet written with the same insistence that you try it, as I write a far more elaborate recipe: Eat a haphazardly washed carrot while standing in a garden.
In this moment, while I sit with sun on my face and the taste of sweet carrot and dirt still lingers, I am hoping that each of you will find yourself in a moment like this one: Inexplicably overwhelmed by the mundane and ordinary that somehow feels miraculous. A reminder that in a world desperately broken, sweetness persists.
We planted carrots for the first time last year; and even though we got just a handful of tiny, knobbly ones, they were the sweetest! Lovely read!