He actually is a rocket scientist
July 15, 2014 4:30 PM   Subscribe

Bored with salad? The Willy Wonka of edible leaves offers help
Graham Clarkson talks about salad as though it were the new rock'n'roll, uttering sentences like: "I get too excited about rocket", "I eat salad bags like they're crisps" and "I have a PHD in baby leaves" (thus making him a "rocket scientist", geddit)? Clarkson is keen to show off his contenders for next year's salad crops – "the future of salad" – and is full of leafy inspiration.
posted by Lexica (21 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Thought I was the only one that ate leaves like chips. If I'm in the mood for rote mindless eating, I'd rather it be greens than anything else.
posted by deliciae at 4:37 PM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

(For Americans, rocket is arugula.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:37 PM on July 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

I get really excited about mache and lollo rosso and I can't ever find them anywhere (admittedly i don't look much further than westside market) and it is very tragic and upsetting.
posted by elizardbits at 4:58 PM on July 15, 2014

You don't win friends with salad.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:00 PM on July 15, 2014 [9 favorites]

Arugula is the funniest food name I know. I mean, it sounds like a clown honking a horn. Its taste and appearance are a real letdown, though.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:07 PM on July 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

I had this salad in a restaurant the other day made of weirdo greens (sea beans and purslane) and now I'm obsessed with recreating it, but where the hell am I gonna find sea beans?
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:11 PM on July 15, 2014

sos chefs in the east village regularly has sea beans. Purslane at the green market.
posted by JPD at 5:20 PM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

where the hell am I gonna find sea beans?

I think I saw samphire at the Un Sq farmer's market last year
posted by elizardbits at 5:27 PM on July 15, 2014

I grew some "salad leaves" from a packet of Mr Fothergills seeds I found in the back of the drawer, last year. I have no idea which variety of plant was which, which is a shame. One tasted of peas, the other of pepper and another was just "greenness". I can't describe it any better than that. It was like the essence of plant. Kind of how you know that petrichor comes from the earth. It's an instinctive thing. Part of the fun was cutting a handfull and nibbling it, not knowing what flavour was going to stand out above the others. The other part was the visual aspect to seeing so many varieties of plant crammed into one small space.

I'm kind of disappointed to not see beetroot shoots mentioned in the article. They're visually different and have a sweet, vaguely earthy flavour.
posted by Solomon at 5:34 PM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

YEAH I just ate a big handful of them the other day, they were rad.

i like eating shoots cause it's like eating a plant's babies
posted by elizardbits at 5:39 PM on July 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Isn't it more like eating a plant's stomach? It's babies would be the plants fruits, eh?
posted by Solomon at 5:40 PM on July 15, 2014

Nah, the fruits would be their ovaries and the seeds are the gametes, surely.
posted by elizardbits at 5:43 PM on July 15, 2014

This conversation reminds me of a book I read once about


a woman who had sex with an orchid and gave birth to a seed with hair.
posted by Solomon at 5:46 PM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

oh my god what am i reading
posted by elizardbits at 6:00 PM on July 15, 2014

Buy it buy it seriously! You won't be disappointed. Well, not if you like homicidal tulips* anyway.

*totally not kidding.
posted by Solomon at 6:04 PM on July 15, 2014

I grow sprouts in these little plastic tubs. Hundreds and hundreds of little baby plants crowded together without light, and then I devour them. It's vegan veal!
posted by moonmilk at 7:14 PM on July 15, 2014 [10 favorites]

(My dog could pronounce "arugula" but only when he was angry)
posted by moonmilk at 7:19 PM on July 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

Nah, the fruits would be their ovaries and the seeds are the gametes, surely.

Fruits are definitely ovaries, but plants still have sperm and eggs for gametes; they combine to create the seed. Two sperm cells are produced from the generative nucleus contained in a grain of pollen, and one egg cell is produced in the ovule in the ovary. When a grain of pollen lands on the stigma of the flower, a pollen tube grows down the pistil, allowing the sperm cells reach the ovule and fertilize the egg.

Plant reproduction is weird because of alternation of generations so there is also a bunch of confusing stuff about microgametophytes involved, but it's mostly that simple. /plant pedant
posted by dialetheia at 7:41 PM on July 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

What you're saying is I should get bizzay with the frisée?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:26 PM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

lollo rosso

Lolla rossa is one of the best greens available on the planet. Hunt further. Butter/Boston/Bibb lettuce is also unspeakably delicious, especially if you're buying babies, double especially if you're buying them whole with dirt still attached.

And samphire, omg, is just so goddamn delicious it'll make you smack your mama. Adria has a highly complicated recipe of samphire tempura with oyster cream but you don't need to go that far. Just get it fresh, do a really light tempura batter (club soda + rice flour, barely mixed, just barely thick enough to just lightly coat the veg), and fry until GBD in deep fat at 375F.

And I mean just barely thick enough. If you've ever made proper French crepes, your tempura batter should be slightly thinner than that. Add a sprinkle of salt after and you're welcome.

(If you want to go the whole hog, shuck fresh oysters, retain the liquor, blend with the flesh until smooth and strain through a Superbag. Dip tempura in the resultant dairy-less cream.)

Other greens that are overlooked: beet, dandelion, marigold (the flowers are edible too!). And seaweed, of a zillion different varieties, can be used as greens in a salad. (Some do need to be blanched before eating; some will get mucilaginous if you go overboard. But hell ass yes seaweed is a leafy green and has huge nutritional benefits that don't exist in land-based greens--iodine, for example, which will let you throw out that nasty iodized salt and use Kosher or Himalayan or Hawaiian or Murrey River or sea salt instead.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:21 PM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nah, the fruits would be their ovaries and the seeds are the gametes, surely.

Fruits are indeed ovaries, but I'd maybe think of seeds as eggs (in the chicken-egg sense, not the single-egg-cell sense - a thing that contains baby and some food for the baby until it's good and ready to come out) so eating sprouts/shoots is more or less like eating innocent hatchlings as they take their first wobbly steps.

Your friendly macabre botanist
posted by pemberkins at 7:32 AM on July 16, 2014

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