June 5th-7th – The Invisible Essentials

We love starting with Thank You’s for the wonderful Open Day we celebrated together last Thursday.

It was great to hold this event at the end of Shavuot, an agricultural holiday combining kindness and charity, the joy of harvest and the first fruits, the abundance of summer vegetables – their juiciness, the gold of their stems, and even the accompanying heat.

The weather was good to us, and we enjoyed an afternoon in the fresh air of the great outdoors. We weaved grain stalks, baked pita bread and took tours along the vegetable beds.

This could not have taken place without our many helpers, behind the scenes and in the field:

Thank you to the wonderful Chubeza workers –

Mohammed, Majdi and Ali – for the first time in many years they could not take part in our celebrations due to Ramadan, but they worked hard before the event to prepare for it. Thank you kindly!

To Hot and Montry who set up, chopped away and tended to the Nibbling Buffet with robust spirit, nimble hands and good nature, and to Tom and Winay who worked hard behind the scenes.

To Melissa, who volunteered as always, offering a hand and directing the produce market in her pleasant, gentle manner.

To my Neta, who came early to help prepare, and took charge of guidance and explanations throughout the event, seeing to it that every curious visitor receives assistance and clarifications, and to my beloved parents who helped her out.

To Helaf who brought the sweet summer fruits of Melo Hatene.

To the always wonderful “Hazel Hill Band” who came on very short notice, happily, easily, making our “together” time even more pleasant with their happy, exuberant music.

And to the one and only Gabby who thought of everything and carried it out to a tee, assembling the charming pavilion, conducting the entire operation by lending a hand, making a quick fix, serving a hot pita, constantly checking on what else was needed and always volunteering happily to help out. We are so grateful to have you with us.

And lastly, thank you for coming – some of you at the end of a long workday, paying us a welcome visit, asking questions, offering ideas, thoughts and kind words, harvesting and discovering and running through the corn beds… being our partners, helping us out, meeting with us face to face.

It was great fun!
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Here is my secret. It is very simple:

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;

what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Wisdom of the Fox, The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

When we imagine a beautiful plant, or describe one, we will usually describe its dimensions, its fresh, green leaves, the colors of its flowers or the juiciness and sweetness of its fruits. At times even its erect stem or impressive pods, its fragrance or movement in the wind. But usually, we do not think about its hidden part, the roots concealed deep in the earth. These roots are imperceptible, inaccessible, yet without them the plant would not exist. It wouldn’t be… well, a plant. The roots serve as anchors, strengthening and stabilizing the plant in the earth, providing it with nutrients and water. In some plants, the roots act as an emergency storeroom for nutrients, and sometimes they play a role in ventilating, reproducing, spreading and gripping.

On the gastronomic side, most of the roots we eat – carrot, beet, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke, radish, turnip – are all winter/beginning of spring vegetables. They’ve been with us for many months, storing within them sweet and filling sugars, enriching and spoiling us with sweet flavor, dietary fibers, vitamins, antioxidants and other goodies. At this point, we’re slowly bidding them farewell. So in honor of this withdrawal period, this week we shall turn the spotlight onto one of the root gang who arrived relatively late this year, thus allowing us to enjoy it during this pre-summer time – the parsley root.

Parsley leaves have a root, and every parsley root has leaves (which look like… parsley, of course.) But not every parsley variety produces what we call “parsley root.” The leaf parsley is satisfied with modest, thin roots and does not develop a thick root. The parsley root was developed over the years by farmers in the ongoing process of selecting preferred species and cultivating them. Thus, alongside the seeds kept from year to year from the plants boasting the biggest leaves or best taste or highest durability to extreme temperatures or pests, other seeds were kept as well– those of plants whose roots thickened. The “cultivated” result is the specie we call “parsley root,” a savory delight to add to the soup. Today it is a totally different specie than the parsley grown for its leaves.

The parsley root’s flavor has been described as a combination of celery, carrot, parsley and turnip. In short, a distinctive and indefinable flavor. It is somewhat sweet, but also earthy (as are most roots). For those who are familiar with the parsnip, note that the parsley root is not a parsnip! Though it closely resembles the parsnip, the parsley root’s flavor is very different and not as sweet.

Parsley greens probably originated in the European Mediterranean area, but the root was cultivated in northern Europe, perhaps due to the fact that roots can be stored for longer periods during the harsh winters of the region. The earliest we hear about the parsley root is in 16th century Germany. Other names for the root attest to this geographic connection: “Dutch Parsley” and “Hamburg Parsley.” Because it was so loved in the cold European countries, it earned the nickname “Petoushka.”

The parsley root only grows in wintertime. Unlike its sister which grows leaves in summer as well–even under the scorching Israeli sun–the parsley root hates heat, and grows in winter’s low temperatures and high humidity. It also needs a lot more time to reach maturity (parsley is the kind of crop that preaches faith and patience, as it sprouts v e r y  s l o w l y.)

The main challenge in growing parsley root is the thinning-out process. This parsley’s elongated roots need space to grow and fatten up, so it’s crucial to thin the bed which was manually seeded and thus grows plants in dense proximity. When we thin them, we remove some of the young sprouts, allowing their siblings some more “growing space.” This year, the parsley root had a hard time sprouting, which made the weeding and thinning-out more difficult, and thus we had to relinquish an unsuccessful root round over the winter. That is why we are only sending you the sweet parsley root at this time, pulling them out of their beds just before the hot weather prevails.

And if any of you doubt the timing, for this may not be high season for a rich vegetable soup and what else can be prepared with root parsley?? I strongly suggest taking a look at our recipe section where you will most certainly discover a new world of hidden and refreshing possibilities for spring usage of this wonderful root – roasted, baked, raw or steamed – they all justify a happy dance!

Wishing us a wonderful summer week, and an easy fast for the Ramadan observers,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Parsley, melon/butternut squash/ acorn squash, lettuce, cucumbers + fakus, zucchini, tomatoes/cherry tomatoes, beets, onions, potatoes, parsley root. Small boxes only: leeks.

Large box, in addition: Green beans/yellow beans, garlic, carrots, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.

Wednesday: Parsley, butternut squash/acorn squash, lettuce, cucumbers + fakus, zucchini, tomatoes/cherry tomatoes, beets, onions, potatoes, parsley root. Small boxes only: leeks.

Large box, in addition: Green beans, garlic, carrots, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, sprouts, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, apple juice, cider and jams, dates silan and healthy snacks and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!