Posted Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 2:16 pm
Yesterday we drove out to see my Uncle-In-Law at a hospital in Mission Hills. He’s recovering magnificently from heart surgery. It turned out that the hospital was right across the street from Forneris Farms. My husband excitedly pulled the car over and we were rewarded with an astonishing array of squashes, familiar and exotic.
I was mesmerized by the enormous Hubbards that resembled giant alien pods. I kept waiting for one to split open as a little E.T. baby struggled out, fighting through a gelatinous mass of otherworldly embryonic goo. No dice.
Next to those were banana squashes, so named because of their shape. They had to have been at least 2.5 feet long. The squashes were so big, in fact, that the farmer’s provided red pull-wagons to cart them back to the car. “How do you cut those?” I asked the woman behind the counter. “With a big knife and a strong husband!” she laughed. Though I was curious, I don’t even think I have the amount of friends it would take to consume the mountains of food one of those would produce. Not wanting to risk the waste, I moved on.
In another bin, Turban Squash were crowded together, looking like a Rajasthani rock concert. A cute, bulbous top, striated orange and green, mushrooms into an orange gourd, making it seem like a pumpkin is wearing a turban. Get it. Turban Squash. I had never seen one of these bizarre vegetables before. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. Today I saw them on display at the Co-Opportunity, Santa Monica’s food co-op. I’m willing to admit I’m a complete squash innocent.
We ended up buying: 2 sugar pumpkins (pies!), 2 eggplants (eggplant tomato bake!), 1 carton tomatoes, 1 bunch basil, 1 bag pears, 1 bag fujis, 1 carton persimmons (Persimmon Chutney! See “Surfas Canning Class” post, 1 bunch sunflowers for Uncle Gary. Total bill: $30. Not bad. Though the food wasn’t organically grown, I felt good about supporting local, independent farmers. Thanks Joe and Barbera Forneris!
Down the street, there was a patch of land completely planted with tomatoes and basil patches that stretched right under two enormous power lines. Turns out the land is the gardening project of the Catholic high school across the street. A powerful image that evokes the essence of urban farming.