My friend Christine asked me to come over this week to advise her on planting a vegetable and herb garden. We stomped around her backyard, talking about what would grow well where, what’s fun for kids to help with and what to do about watering and choosing seeds over plants. After a long winter, it reminded me why Cooking With Friends felt familiar from the start to me.
When I began growing food, about 8 years ago in Washington, D.C., I had an enormous city plot near my apartment in a community garden. It’s what many call a “Victory Garden.” There I grew beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, carrots, spinach, eggplant, chard, tatsoi, and a dozen herbs. When you are out in the sun working on your garden, you talk to other people working on their garden. Eventually, someone has too much of something (often squash). You start trading. You start growing a little extra for your friends. You start leaving little piles of gorgeous fresh veggies in each others’ patches. One day, a man I’d met once left a carefully folded square of paper with a green bean salad recipe on it under my heavily-weighted bean trellis. Of course, I reciprocated with a nice batch of beans. It is a simple, natural way of the world to share food with one another.