New Memoir Tuesday. This weeks task: write about your favorite fresh fruit or vegetable. As you write your piece this week, think of it as writing a scene. Be sure to engage our senses, make us feel, see, taste, hear, and smell. Pull us in with your description. Your word limit is 700 words.
She sits in her high chair eyeing me. Her enormous brown eyes, so dark that they are almost black, peer at me from under her long lashes. In my peripheral vision I see her trying to lift herself up so she can see what I am doing on the counter. She won’t ask for help. Though she is over two, she hasn’t decided that adults are worth talking to and we’ve decided not to push the issue.
On the counter is a pile of scallions, slender, long, fanning out at the ends. Natures perfect study in shades of green. Small beige furry roots top the shining, crisp, iridescent white bulbs that then effortlessly slide all the way down the stalk to the darkest of greens, hitting every shade in between. She shifts again, trying to get her leg under her, to leverage herself up.
“You Ok there Chloë? Need some help?”
She huffs, narrows her eyes at me and both her mouth and forehead pucker with her efforts to get to her knees. I start to turn to lift her up but she dismisses me with a wave of her hand. I like that my sister born 17 years after me is so independent.
I take three scallions, cool and slightly damp to the touch and line their heads up to chop off the roots. As the knife slides through the layers of plant tissue the faint but sharp scent of onion just pulled from the earth wafts up to sting my nasal passages. Saliva starts to coat my mouth. The sharp sound that the knife makes slicing through the stalks is a marriage of leaves rustling and grass being cut. I cut on the diagonal, making fairly large pieces that get dropped in hot oil with the paper-thin beef for Mongolian Beef. My stomach tightens with hunger and my tongue aches for the taste of still crisp but oil-singed scallion, pungent, sweet and on the edges where they get crispy, smoky. As a offering to my anticipation I put a piece of the freshly cut onion in my mouth, trying to savor the grass like texture before I bite down when I hear,
“I’d like one of those please.” She has her right hand out, palm up and her fingers curl slightly in the universal toddler sign for ‘gimme.’
“I’m sorry?” I say trying not to make a big deal out of this moment. Terrified I’ll startle her back into silence.
“I would like one of those,” she says pointing to the scallions as if I am little daft.
She nods. I chop the roots off a fresh scallion, wipe it off with a paper towel and hand it to her. She smells the top and fingers the fanned out stalk ends with her left hand. She adjusts her grip and bites the entire white bulb off, right to where the lightest of greens starts. Her eyes widen and moisten. She wiggles her nose, chews and takes in a mouthful of air. I brace myself. It starts slow like a wave rolling back into the ocean. It starts in one corner and then moves across her lips to the other. Her teeth show flecks of onion as the grin spreads to warm her serious eyes.
“It’s good!” She says as she continues to chew down the stalk. “Another?”
“No, one is enough.”
“Fine. I want that for dinner,’ she says pointing at the wok. “No baby stuff.”
“Ok?” She’s suspicious of a trick and drawls the word out.
“Ok, small amounts though. Promise to take it slow?”
She shrugs making no promises and continues to eye the scallions. My finger tips feel the slightly damp waxy interior of one of the perfectly cut green rings and as I hand it to her I decide the light in her eyes is worth any stomach ache that might come later.
For those of you who are interested here is the link for my Mongolian Beef recipe.