Monday, March 08, 2010

In Season NW: There's a Fern in My Pizza!


The very first trip I made to Maine to meet my future in-laws, they made sure I tried genuine Kennebec and Katahdin potatoes grown in Aroostook County (in Maine, it's just called "The County"). They made sure to emphasize that their potatoes were grown in the rich, rocky soil of New England, unlike the potatoes grown in Idaho that they disdained as being "grown in sand."

Of course they made sure I had lobster a few times, too, sweet and luscious and served whole in the shell, unlike the odd bits mixed with other seafood I'd grown up with, included only so the restaurant could justify doubling the price of the dish. But the real revelation of the trip was an odd little green shaped like the scroll of a violin, the unfurled fronds of a young fern that are gathered along streams in the spring.

As with nettles, these first little sprouts of green that appeared in the spring were no doubt greeted with great relief by people living in northern climes who hadn't had any fresh vegetables for several months. With a flavor reminiscent of spinach and a crunch like celery, they make a great appetizer (and conversation piece) simply sautéed in olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Add bacon and shallots for a side dish or to serve over pasta.

Or do what we did: sauté them and scatter the fiddleheads over a homemade pizza for a seasonal twist. You can find them at the farmers' markets now and they should be available for the next month or so. Oh, and they also freeze quite well if you want to test any potential relatives when they come to visit.

4 comments:

Connie said...

Just love seeing the foods of my Maine childhood getting props here! Not sure where your in-laws hail from, but there's lots of good eatin' all around the Grand State: wild blueberries, clam fritters, plogues with molasses, and on and on. We just can't get those goodies here, but I gladly gave them up along with the snow...

kab said...

He grew up in Houlton, in northern Maine, and developed an allergy to snow from overexposure to it. (He still has remnants of frostbite on his ears!)

Last time we were in New England I had my first lobster roll and it almost made me wish I'd grown up there instead of here. For a minute, anyway!

Connie said...

Heck, Houlton was practically the tropics compared to Fort Kent, where I hung my hat for several years. I'll take Dungeness Crab and mild winters in place of a lobster roll (almost) any time!

Rainy Daisy said...

Oh, I'd forgotten about these beauties! In Vermont, they used to grow like weeds, as I recall. I just thought they were pretty, although I learned to enjoy eating them too :)