My farm neighbors give me the fruits of their labors. And I AM grateful. But sometimes I do feel at a loss.
Yesterday a friend handed me a huge bundle of fuki. Dear me... What is fuki? It looks like a type of rhubarb and like rhubarb, only the stalk is edible. It has a bitter flavor and is very stringy, but it can be peeled and then boiled a couple of times to remove the bitterness. In other words, there is a lot of work involved with fuki! And I had a whole bundle plopped into my arms!
The other thing about fuki is that it needs to stay out of the sun after being picked and it needs to be cooked up quickly to retain its tenderness. So I was on a time factor. On a Wednesday!
I put my bundle of fuki in the kitchen sink full of water and left it for the day. It was the best I could do on a Wednesday morning.
At 6:30 I came home and sighed when I saw my kitchen sink. Before I began dinner I had to do something with the fuki.
And so I peeled, and peeled and peeled! It is an easy job, repetitious. Just pull away the outer layer with a thumbnail. But I had a lot of fuki! I boiled up two large pots of water and put the fuki in to boil. (TWO BATCHES!) and then dumped out the water and boiled the fuki again. (And I was still peeling.) Finally, at 7:30 at night I was ready to make a dish with the fuki. Some of it.
I consulted the Internet and found a fuki recipe that I could make with things I had around the house. (Besides just the fuki.) Leiya was on chat and caught me while I was rejecting various fuki recipes.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm cooking fuki and I don't have time to talk with you."
"What is fuki?"
"It is a spring Japanese vegetable and you can be grateful that you will probably never have to cook it. Good-bye."
I went back to my fuki and simmered it up with some deep fried tofu. I flavored it as best I could.
When Tetsu came home (the rest of dinner was pretty sparse) I grumbled that I had been making fuki all evening and didn't even know if it was edible.
"Hey, this is great, Tanya. Your fuki is delicious! Yum, yum, look, I'm eating it all up. I like your fuki."
"It's a good thing you do because there is at least three more dinners' worth of fuki still in the kitchen sink."
This morning I spotted a different farm neighbor in her field.
"I think I'll offer Yano-san some of the fuki I prepared last night. There is so much left."
"Um... I wouldn't do that. I LOVED your fuki... but I don't think it would suit Yano-san's palate. It might taste a little bit too "foreign" for her."
It seems that Tetsu was just trying to be diplomatic about last night's fuki. It is not really of "share some with your neighbor" caliber.
What am I going to do with all the fuki still in my kitchen sink?