Bring the World to Your Garden
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Growing and enjoying a diverse kitchen garden today is a real life way of hyperlinking to almost all the world's cultures. As we Americans broaden our food horizons, the seeds we grow in our gardens represent a truly multicultural diversity of food preferences. Being in the seed business, especially in the electronic information age, has enabled me to find wonderful varieties from both hemispheres to share with fellow gardeners and rich and productive relationships with seed producers, both large and small, all over the globe.Green beans are part of everyday menus for many ethnic groups, but different cultures have developed different pod styles. From France come delicate slender filet beans, also known as haricots verts. Our Renee's Garden variety Rolande has the long, round, pencil-thin pods typical of filets. In France they are usually harvested very young, under 1/4 inch in diameter. Briefly cooked in boiling water until just tender-crisp, then refreshed in ice water, these pods are a taste sensation quickly sautéed in a bit of sweet butter with fresh chopped herbs.
In Spain, flat broad pods with a rich meaty flavor are preferred. Our variety Musica was bred for Spanish fresh markets and is typical of this type, with a crunchy texture and substantial, full beany flavor. These beans are featured in one regional version of paella, the delicious Spanish stew flavored with rare saffron threads. Best of all, Musica is also early to bear and amazingly productive.
Basil is a Mediterranean herb grown widely throughout that region of Europe. You can choose our Greek style Windowbox Basil or imported Italian Pesto Basil or French Salad Leaf Basil each has a different leaf shape and slightly different flavor characteristics. It's really fun growing several kinds and comparing their taste and aroma. Cook up authentic Italian or Greek dishes knowing you are using the same ingredients that are found in the recipe's home country.
New World vegetables such as tomatoes have been adopted by many different cultures. Most Americans know the sausage-shaped sauce tomatoes from Italy. Our Italian "Pompeii" is perfect to slice onto homemade pizza or cook into a thick robust sauce. For round tomatoes, consider "Carmello" from France, where deep crimson tomatoes with a high sugar to acid ratio like "Carmello" translate into melt-in-your-mouth, incomparable fresh eating flavor straight from the vine.
Some herbs have been given more attention in specific cultures. For example, we import our variety of chamomile Bodegold from Germany because in that country, the benefits of chamomile tea are taken very seriously and it is regularly enjoyed as a soothing calming and refreshing drink.
Renee's Garden Seeds Shopping List:
Basil, Italian Pesto
Beans, Spanish Musica
Eggplant, Asian Trio
Tomato, Italian Pompeii
To purchase these and other
Renee's Garden Seeds, click here
Try these great recipes from Renee's cookbooks:
Green Bean Pate
Tomato Stir Fry
Pickled Basil Beans
German breeders have worked hard to develop the Bodegold selection which has a uniform habit and wonderful abundance of the sweet little daisylike flowers. Simply air dried, the blossoms make an intensely fragrant tea whose aromatic apple/pineapple flavor delights all the senses. Make this favorite drink over into an American-style treat by sweetening it with honey and serving it iced with a slice of lemon and a sprig of fresh mint on hot sultry summer afternoons.
As you can see from these examples, growing your own vegetables and herbs is a truly international activity that links you to fellow gardeners and cooks both historically and geographically. Every season the seeds you plant come from both near and far to share their rich and welcoming traditions in your own backyard. To me, these connections are among the most exciting and rewarding parts of gardening each summer season.