Why I Live Here…

The woman and the Batavia. 

By   Helen Ducal

She balanced it in the palm of her right hand, holding it high, level with her chin. ‘Beautiful isn’t it’ she stated. For it was more a statement than a question. Manu( the local shopkeeper) smiled the smile of someone happy in the knowledge that such simple pleasures are common place here.

For my part, I was stunned, slightly. For this woman’s prize possession- imminent as she was about to pay for it- was a frilly edged Batavia lettuce. Fully grown she could barely contain it in one hand. Pale green ruffles, preening like a peacock of the salad world, ready to be gently rinsed, shaken, and delicately spread open to reveal its tender pale heart. Every morsel, every leaf displayed on a large oval plate, supporting a multitude of summer vegetables, a feast for a family’s Saturday lunch under the shade of a plane tree and accompanied by the cicadas cooling call.

And you ask why I LIVE here?

Zoom in, Google earth to a super market near you and see a woman in grey, face contorted in consternation, as she reaches for the asphyxiating plastic wrap containing two, if your lucky, little gems, so tight and hard they resemble across between a couple of gnarled pancreatic tumours and a pair of hand-grenades…All texture, no taste.

No need to wash, the leaves are so tightly bound that nothing living could ever enter. One will be chopped, unceremoniously and dumped in a white cotton wool sandwich with salad cream, the stuff that looks like sick with the lumps sieved out and the other kept until the end of the week in its wrapping so that it will have sweat itself into a brown mush. Fast forward to lady who survived the war- waste not, want not- telling her grandson that it’ll be fine in the middle…

Or maybe it will be put on the side of a plate as garnish. This loosely translated means, do not eat, it may be good for you and therefore should stay on the plate until it is scraped back into the supermarket plastic bag, dangling lopsided from a corner kitchen unit and doubling up as a bin liner, thereby saving the planet.

I rest my case.

Eat, drink and be merry...

One Response to “Why I Live Here…”
  1. Beautiful writing — what fantastic imagery! You make an excellent case, too. Going to my supermarket won’t be the same for me now.

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