Gone to Seed - june 11, 2010
"It's just gone to seed", my mother would say, shaking her head and referring to areas of our town she no longer liked, when they had passed out of fashion or become unacceptable. "Don't touch anything, its so seedy!" She would shout about an untouchable location, like the public bathroom at the playground. Now my lettuce and arugula plants are going to seed. They are bolting, shooting up and flowering. After dinner tonight I can tell you for sure that they are no longer good to eat. Tougher, less flavorful, a little more difficult to chew than I like my salads to be. But they make a nice bouquet.
The Free Dictionary (which appears to be the only one on line where I can find an entry for this phrase without using my credit card) defines "go/run to seed" as an idiom with two meanings:
1. To pass into the seed-bearing stage.
2. To become weak or devitalized; deteriorate.
Which fits. Just as people's bodies grow old and wear out after they pass child bearing age, so do plants as they propagate. It makes sense that I'm worn out and will whither and die, after they've sucked all the life out of me and I'm no longer useful. The children, I mean. Have I already gone to seed? I suppose so. My house is surely seedy, but my Mother bites her tongue and knits sweaters for the children instead of mentioning it.
So tonight's dinner was surprisingly well received - both my husband and daughter gobbled the salad with no complaints, and I ate it up too, noting its lack of perfection. As usual, my three year old son did not eat the salad. He never does. But the egg and toast? Just the thing.
Eggs on Toast with Balsamic Vinegar: (adapted from The San Francisco Chronicle, May 9 2010)
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
2 slices toasted bread, about 1/2-inch thick
1 1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 small handfuls of spicy lettuce (such as watercress, arugula or baby red mustard greens)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot but not quite smoking (it will look shimmery), crack each egg into the skillet. Cook them about half a minute, then tilt the pan to roll the oil around, so that it cooks the top of the egg. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and cook until they are done the way you like them.
Place a piece of toast on each plate, then remove the eggs from the skillet and put them on top of the toast. Pour the excess oil out of the skillet, wipe any remaining oiliness out of the pan.
Put the pan back on the heat, pour the balsamic vinegar into it, and let it cook for just about a minute. Add some salad to on top of your egg, then drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.