Thursday, June 16, 2011

Well Fed

or On Pink and Plenty

Vegetables—so wholesome, so useful, nourishing, and sensible.

No, no, no, no, no. What I meant to say is, Vegetables—so vibrant, so artsy, fanciful, and extravagant.

Yes, that's better. The “Flamingo” chard in the microgarden is going like gangbusters these days, and when the sun catches those neon stems early in the morning, you fall in love with sunglasses all over again. (I've cropped some of the photos but haven't altered the colors at all.)

I'm not actually a huge fan of pink, though I've come to terms with it over the years, but this hot pink is an exception. On paper or in a paint store it would mean an instant migraine, but in the natural world it tickles me no end. Still, where chard is concerned, it wouldn't matter if the stems were orange, blue, or purple—what I love about them is their vividness and intensity, that incredible saturation of color. They are a short step away from being pure light.

I looked up the word “saturate,” because—well, really, there is no because. I just wanted to see what would happen. (Living dangerously, Microcosm style.) I knew it was related to satisfy and satiate and so on but was delighted to see that the Latin root, satur, means “well-fed.”

Well fed. Oh, what a lovely phrase, occupying that happy middle-ground between hunger and gluttedness where you purr with the contentment of enough, where your needs are not only met but met pleasantly. If the Cosmic Serving Dish of Pinkness were passed again, the chard would say, “No thank you, I do not need any more pink just now. I am full up with pink. I am so wonderfully full of pink, I could not absorb any more if I tried.”

Looking at it, I find myself feeling well fed, too. It's about more than the color—it's also about the need for a certain intensity of experience, a particular kind of sensory feast. Tracing the stems and veins and rivers, trying to absorb them, to soak up their color...for that moment one lives fully in the wonder of the world.

And on top of all that, chard is a vegetable: an edible, tasty, nutritious vegetable, the stuff of which good dinners are made. (Or at least, it will be, if I stop writing and get busy cooking.)

It is a fine, fine thing to be so very well fed.


A P.S. that didn't fit anywhere else:
"The brave little mantis seeks its fortune in Beta Vulgaris, the giant forest of Chard."


  1. beautiful. I love chard. It's colorful and a pretty plant. It's good eating and it grows so well too!

  2. The richness of color in the natural world just can't be duplicated, can it? There seem to be extra dimensions to the color in this Chard, for instance, that you'd never see anywhere else. Maybe that's why it's so sensually satisfying.

  3. Your chard is lovely. Bet it looks pretty on a plate, too! Soooo much more better looking than plain white mashed potatoes! PS: Don't let that mantis eat too much!

  4. You remind of my father ending a meal with 'elegant sufficiency'. Born in 1906, he didn't simply eat 'enough'.

    I sadly suspect that the rainbow chard cooks down to the usual dull green spinach, and doesn't hold those colours??

  5. Your chard looks fantastic! Great photos.

  6. In a veggie beauty contest, it seems to me that chard is always going to be among the finalists. That is a particularly lovely variety. -Jean

  7. Mud, chard really wins on all counts, doesn't it? I didn't care for it as a kid, and now I don't know how to eat in summer without it.

    Ginny, I hadn't thought of that sense of dimensions before. Your words remind me of the difference between an acoustic piano and an electronic one--the warmth and sympathetic vibrations just aren't there in the electronic version.

    Holley, it does look pretty on a plate, but mashed potatoes have their place, too, especially if there's lots of butter on them... (So far the mantis is only interested in eating things I'm not--win/win!)

  8. Diana, "elegant sufficiency" is a lovely goal to aim for. The colors do cook out in the chard--the stems turn kind of a muddy reddish brown, and the leaves turn spinach-y dark. In the rainbow varieties you can still tell the difference between the colors, but they won't inspire any poetry.

    Christine, thank you! I've begun harvesting in earnest, so there's suddenly a lot less chard than there was...

    Jean, it's hard to decide which chard to buy from a seed catalogue--they're all so attractive. Baker Creek has an "Oriole Orange" that I'll probably try next year, but I do love the hot pink/cool green of this one.

  9. The photos are so mesmerizing. Almost too pretty to eat!

  10. A stunning post. Makes me want to slow down, after a too busy week, and just soak up the beauty. Chard is an amazing plant and you paid it a wonderful tribute.

  11. What a very unique way of looking at chard! I think chard is one of the more attractive veggies in the garden with its striking pink against the green. Even though the colors are striking, my mouth waters at the sight of it.

  12. Beautiful post and pix! Thank you for sharing.