Urbivore's Dilemma, Week 19: Fresh bok choy and Chinese take-out
Photo: Jennifer Prediger
Somehow I’ve made it to week 21 of this new Community Supported Agriculture life, which I, a lapsed take-out addict, am keeping track of here in this Urbivore’s Dilemma column.
If old habits die hard, then old eating habits die harder, and include the power of rising from the dead. Two weeks ago, the bok choy I received revived some old habits. OK, it’s wrong to blame the bok choy, but the bok choy don’t mind and the bok choy don’t care. I’ve got to blame it on someone … (Apparently Milli Vanilli memories die hard, too.)
Here’s what was in the share: sweet potato, summer squash, beets, string beans, escarole, and 水菜 还有小白菜 (pronounced bok choy).
I did what anyone with fresh, delicious farm-fresh bok choy would do. I stir-fried it with oil, garlic, and salt. But first, I called the Chinese takeout place five blocks away from my apartment to deliver egg drop soup, vegetarian egg rolls, and lo mein. I attempted to time it so the takeout would be delivered at just the right moment when the bok choy was coming off the skillet. As if I were trying to ride the wave of my own cooking to feel as though I too had created all of the other wonderful foods magically ready to eat at precisely the same time.
Like a minotaur, my meal was half human, half takeout beast. OK, it was more than half takeout. I masterminded a masterpiece of MSG and farm-fresh goodness. The only thing to feel actually guilty about was the convenient and horrifying plastic containers. Have you ever felt uneasy at the sight of hot soup inside one of those clear plastic tubs bending from the heat of your golden elixir? If soup heals you now, the bent plastic containers seem like they have the power to kill you later. Ah, tradeoffs.
But busy lives demand convenience, no? In No Impact Man’s book about his year going austerely carbon neutral, he writes how he ought to put a note in one of those plastic takeout containers to his great-grand-children, like a message in a bottle. I forget his words exactly, but it would say something like, “Sorry for the mess.”
The MSG gave me a euphoric feeling of coming unhinged, possibly a little undone. I was torn about my decision to have this hybrid meal. Should I have to go out into the world with a scarlet letter T (for takeout) upon my sweater?
How do you find balance, readers? Is ordering in Chinese food for cheaters?
In the coming weeks, I have radicchio, sweet pepper, eggpant, string bean, winter squash, cilantro, string beans, lettuce, dill, leeks, sweet potato, mustard greens, and another Asian green, 塌棵菜, aka. tākēcài.
Hmm. I wonder what takeout would go well with all that?
What are you getting in your CSA boxes this week, readers? And what are you doing to prepare it? Confucius says I need reader inspiration. May your weeks be filled with good fortune. See you next week.