I detested vegetables when I was a little girl; especially Jamaica's main green leafy vegetable known as callaloo. Looking back, it may have been the way it was prepared as the 'poor' life was cooked out of the callaloo leaving it with a deep olive color; instead of the bright vibrant green color it should have had. Sorry mom! You were one of the guilty parties:) Most children looked forward to Sundays because of the ice cream truck which played that universal music and drove through our neighborhood in the afternoon. But for me it was a no win situation. My family's traditional Sunday dinner was usually rice and peas with chicken or roast beef. And that was the one day that you were sure to have some type of vegetable on your plate. I did not eat rice and peas, still don't and hated all vegetables.
My 6 year old self, eyes filled with tears was threatened by the belt mummy had placed on the table because I could not swallow what was now mushy food in my mouth. Picture a washing machine going through its spin cycle, that was my mouth going around in circles, chewing some type of vegetable and rice and peas but could swallow anything. This was a regular scene at 972 London Ave every Sunday. Can you imagine my dilemma? No ice cream nor fudge; my punishment due to the dinner table debacle. What’s worse was that I could not sneak any snacks because mummy was home all day.
I cannot remember when my transformation began but overtime my taste buds slowly evolved. Jokingly I tell everyone that my palate became sophisticated (lol) or not. This little girl grew up and fell in love with all things green; developed an insatiable appetite for green leafy vegetables; stir fried to perfection, slightly wilted or steamed; paired with some of my favorite dishes or staring in their own show as the main entrée. Collard Greens sauteed with carrots is one of my all time favorite green leafy vegetable. Today I simply cannot enjoy a meal without some type of vegetable on my plate.
Traditional collard greens stewed with smoked turkey was my first introduction to this vegetable and every once in a while I feel for that taste but I love the version of sauteed collard green with julienne carrots that I created. Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil to saute the greens as it brings out a unique flavor that will have you going back for more.
I ventured into an Asian Farmers Market in Georgia on the recommendation of a friend, a couple of years ago and was surprised at the variety of greens that I saw. Most of these green vegetables were new to me and I could not pronounce a lot of the names. Nonetheless I felt as excited as a kid in a candy store, so without any blue print I took home some red swiss chard and an asian vegetable called choy sum and experimented with them. The rest as they say is history. What I know for sure is that my life as it relates to food was never the same again 🙂