Wednesday, November 7, 2007

For Novelty's Sake

Anybody who knows me well knows that I adore any and all things miniature. If it's tinier than it should be, it's right up my alley. When I go to ice cream shops, I surreptitiously save my taster-sized spoon, rejecting the gargantuan utensil plopped into my final order. There is just nothing cuter than something mini. So, imagine my delight (and child-like squeals) when I happened upon a crate of lady apples while perusing the aisles of our local Whole Foods.

I had never heard of, or seen, lady apples until that joyful moment, and unhesitatingly dumped a few handfuls into a produce bag. There was no deliberation; not so much as a glance at the price or even an inspection of the individual fruits themselves. Who knows if I even needed apples in the first place? This was a novelty purchase.

A few days later I was standing in the kitchen, minuscule fruit perched between thumb and finger, munching carefully on my precious little apple. Jonathan's roommate asked me what kind of freakish thing I was eating. "Oh, it's a lady apple." To which she posited, "Well, why are you eating it like that?" And I, defensively: "It's so small that there isn't really much flesh...you have to be careful or you'll bite through the core."

And then, her naive response: "I guess you can't really buy food just for the novelty..."

Can't buy food for the novelty? What is this, the Soviet Union? Of course you can buy food for the novelty. Indeed, novelty is one of my primary purchase motivations for half of the things I buy. Certainly I am not defending myself on the grounds of practicality or common sense; I once had lofty dreams of turning my wee lady apples into dinner party-appropriate caramel confections, but that didn't exactly happen. And yes, that marinated feta with the capers and herbs is still in the fridge, lonely and half-eaten, its novelty having worn off some.

But if you think you are both reading this food blog and living in a world in which true practicality actually matters, I think we all know that you are kidding yourself. Novelty foods, and, I suppose, other novelty items, are exciting, sometimes delicious, and at the very least, potential conversation starters. Why not indulge?

A couple of weeks ago, we bought famed Italian farro (an ancient whole grain) for the first time. At $7 per pound, it isn't exactly staple material, but, as Jonathan so aptly pointed out in his last post, how can you resist anything the Italians do? If they eat farro, I'll try it at least once. I would have bought it if it had cost $20 per pound (maybe). Perhaps I am just more culinarily curious than most, but the novelty of novelty goods hasn't quite worn off for me yet. I'll take a meal of microscopic, fleshless fruit and toothsome ancient grains over meat and potatoes any day.

4 comments:

E said...

We have a weekly farmers market on campus and today, I bought pink lady apples there. I'm not sure if they are related to lady apples, but they are really delicious and a little bit smaller than normal-sized apples.

Mia said...

Pink lady apples are a bit different; these ones are genuinely mini. Apparently, they are a winter apple, in season in November and December.

E said...

Are they grown locally in November and December?

Mia said...

I don't know too much, but take a look at this: http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/fruit_garden/97332