Friday, July 4, 2008

Hello From Oakland, California

After months of traveling, visiting, and lingering, we've ended up in Oakland, California. Upon opening my long dormant check book and seeing the last rent check written, I realized the last time I had a home in America was five years ago almost to the day.

It seemed appropriate to do my first post in Oakland, all about Oakland. Maybe a trip to East Oakland for some taco truck action. Or maybe track down the beloved roving tamale vendor who is taunting me. Or maybe hit some of the famous dining spots that reflect the diverse community of people. But: it seemed that adventure was right out our back door. The building we are living in has a garden, and not just any garden. For reasons that are only beginning to make sense, it's full of food for anyone, and not a lot of people are eating.

After being in the building for less than an hour, a chat with our gardener lead to an introduction:

"What's that?" I asked. S picked one of the more mature looking pods to reveal a ground cherry.

Now this was exciting: a new fruit in my own backyard. Ground Cherries are a member of the nightshade family and are mildly reminiscent of cherry tomatoes, although a bit acidic. After one bite I knew we would be having salad as soon as possible.

More digging around provided us with more discovery.

Here's New Zealand Spinach. It's kind of like the spinach that many of us eat but with somewhat thicker leaves and an earthier flavor.

We also dug a few potatoes, picked plain old spinach, borige and nasturtium flowers, yellow beans, and one lonely artichoke.

Not too shabby.

Ground cherries littered the ground, so I did my best to clean them up.

Dinner was fresh and colorful. We look forward to spending a lot of time in the garden in the near future.


Robyn said...

Northern California. (sigh)

a said...

Wanna trade places sometime?

Boots in the Oven said...

Wow, what an intensely colorfully amazing garden you have! Are ground cherries like gooseberries - they look very similar.

a said...

Hmm. I've eaten only a few gooseberries in my life, so not sure about the similarities in flavor. A quick look at wikipedia revealed that they are not closely related. Gooseberries are a species of ribes. Ribes includes the edible currants. Ground cherries are Physalis, a genus of the nightshade family.

Further reading revealed that Physalis peruviana, or ground cherries, are sometimes referred to as Cape gooseberry, but are not gooseberries at all. Hmph.

Jeanette said...

Hey, if you are missing good Thai food in Oakland, the Thai temple in Berkeley serves great Thai food every Sunday. Apparently the community donates the food, the temple cooks it and collects the money as donation.

a said...

Hey Jeanette
Thanks for the tip. A few of my friends have also recommended it to me. If there is good thai to be had around here, I reckon it's there. But as far as getting "authentic" food outside of the source country, I have always had little luck. Maybe my luck will change?