Saturday, May 23, 2009


I was never destined to star in Fiddler on the Roof.

My brush with the violin was brief. Fourth grade offered the first opportunity to participate in the school orchestra, and I vaguely recall wanting to play the cello, but I imagine my parents talked me out of it over it's more cumbersome portability challenges. So, it was the violin, complete with a chin rest, resin and bow made with real horsetail hair.

I toiled over a creaky, squeaky Hot Cross Buns until I got used to the graceful flow of the bow over the strings, eventually graduating to more complicated tunes of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star and Edelweiss (also creaky and squeaky).

They say practice makes perfect, but for all my practicing, I remained frustrated with my fingering and developed a fierce, 10-year-old disdain for the instructor.

Field Day at the end of the year brought with it a list of games, a cookout and the end of my love affair with the violin. 5th grade launched my somewhat longer singing career.

Thankfully, these days I do not have to pick up a violin case to get my fiddle fix.

The fiddlehead fern is a fleeting seasonal delicacy that allows only weeks of culinary revelation. This leafy green, so named because its unfurled leaves remind us of the carved scroll at the end of a stringed instrument, is typically eaten after some kind of preparation including blanching or sauteing.

Popular in New England, the fiddlehead fern comes into season in Connecticut, Massachusetts, etc. in May. Twitter pal @geekjames tells me his friend and local vegetable aficionado Sallie Ransohoff says fiddleheads aren't quite yet in season in Greater Cincinnati, but a bumper crop can be found in Adams County, due east of the Queen City.

Many epicureans compare the fiddlehead's flavor to something of a cross between asparagus, artichoke and okra. Chock full of vitamins A and C, the fern requires cooking before eating so as to neutralize a toxin naturally found in the green.

Just boil your fiddleheads for five to ten minutes, then swirl some olive oil in a pan, saute at medium heat for a few minutes, and you'll be good to go.

I've been dying to prepare fiddlehead ferns and hear they're typically found at Madison's in Findlay Market, though my informants say you might also be able to score some at Hyde Park Kroger or Jungle Jim's in Fairfield.

Many recipes pair the fiddlehead fern with morel - a perfect, springtime union (here's a delicious and easy recipe from San Francisco's 5th Floor Restaurant), but in a nod to the fiddlehead's New England roots, I'd prefer to prepare a dish that includes seafood. This recipe of fiddlehead ferns, shrimp and linguine makes for the perfect savory symphony to soak up spring.

I imagine your exclamations of joy after eating this dish will be anything but creaky and squeaky.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

1 comment:

Noel Bell said...

practice makes perfect indeed :-)