WPC: Out of space, off the chard

Oh do I have a veggie candy for you that is not only out of this world but out of space.

There are some things that I cannot understand about America. I won’t get personal and inquire into the stardom of certain Jennifer or two Justins, nor ask questions such as how could anyone have elected him.

I’m thinking of kale and how it got to become a laughing-stock, a hipster icon, a symbol of division. Depends on who you ask.

It’s such a damn fine vegetable and good for everybody. Have you ever had Kohl zu Speis? I’m not even sure that it’s the name of a dish in any German-speaking country, but for some historic reasons this is how my Slovenian grandmother called her kale with potatoes.

I loved it so much that one day, after she just made some, when she asked me what I wanted for lunch the next day, I said “The same thing again”.

And that’s what she made.

I was but little then and haven’t discovered yet what would become my new favourite vegetable. It took a man who claimed to be half Italian with father from the Croatian island Krk to introduce it to me, together with many fish and sea food dishes.

I learned how to prepare it: cook it together with potatoes and season with salt, garlic and olive oil, nothing fancy. I learned how to peel away the sometimes stringy parts and cut the stem horizontally to make it boil faster.

I soon discovered there was a little problem. I didn’t know the English word for it. When I was discussing vegetables with my Slovenian friend’s Scottish husband without her near, and I reached the point where I wanted to share my favourite veggie, I was stuck. I described, I gestured, I made yummy noises, and then he said: “Oh! You mean blitva! We have our garden full of it!”

Yes, she taught him the Slovenian word for it. Well played, Darja.

I think that later when I told her about it she introduced it to me as Swiss chard. I believe it’s also called mangold. (Right now I discovered that it has a rather undignified Latin name: Beta vulgaris. It must be because kale is Alpha. :D)

Since I’m not a well-travelled girl, worldwide speaking, I have only known one variety – the green and white one from the Adriatic region. Until now.

What you see below might have nothing to do with Switzerland any more but it’s what I encountered here in a Tuscan supermarket, and it was the best spent 1 Euro that I can imagine, from purely aesthetic reasons alone. And the taste was practically identical to what I know and love too.

It might be quite normal where you are at, but for me it’s out of this world, galaxy and space. (Here is an Out of Space song that might remind you of all kinds of things, depends on what you did in the 90’s.)

The best company for it are the squid from the oven with potatoes and what Slovenians call Triestine sauce (see the caption to the green glassful photo), so this is what I made. Buon appetito!

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Out of This World

25 thoughts on “WPC: Out of space, off the chard

      1. Nope! Never been to the USA (except Hawaii) – not that familiar with chard anyway though I must’ve had it somewhere, sometime, maybe in France. Your post reminded me that I’ve forgotten even the simplest cooking that I once knew, and your cooking looks so natural and confident! 🙂 Looks yummy! I eat out quite a lot when I’m working and now that I’m home, I’ve resorted to ready-made meals from the supermarket. I strictly avoided them for years but here I am now. They are popular in Finland, probably because it’s hard to get anything fresh here anyway.

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        1. Ohh, SMSW, this is a surprise! You read all the right books but you don’t cook or hunt your own boar! 😉 I hail from a family of natural and confident cooks. I never had to do it while we still lived all together, because all others were so eager, and later when on my own it just came naturally. I used to hate doing it, however, but strange how Italy changes everything. 🙂 Truth – over here I also don’t have to do it… When I do it is because I want to. Such luxury!

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        2. I never learned to cook at home! Normally, I’m very involved in researching my food: where did this come from, what’s been added. I read the content list like it’s fine print in an agreement. I try to buy organic, ESPECIALLY after reading Pollan! 😵And to eat as healthily as I can, without of course forgetting to indulge, too! That’s why it’s so painful to now be eating these industrial meals!!! But, I have no time for myself anymore, and no energy. And I’m bored of the poor selection of fresh produce in the stores here. Expensive and lame. Food in Italy is something else altogether!!!!

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  1. I found you! You disappeared from my reader because you’re on blog #3 but somehow I missed the memo. Anyway, here you are writing about Swiss Chard, something I just recently discovered and made last weekend for the first time. Delish! As always, your photos scream yummy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! But I would swear I saw you around here yet, Susanne! In the beginning when this was a writer’s blog. Anyway, you are here now and this is what matters. Just in time to find my Swiss chard. 🙂 Was yours as fancy or plain green and white? Do you boil it with potatoes too?

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      1. The chard we had was like yours. In the grocery store they called it “rainbow Swiss Chard”. It was sauteed with garlic, olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of white vinegar and some chili pepper flakes. Out of this world!

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