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The Perfect Carrot

The summer of 2009 I lived in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico where I rented a small condominium with a kitchen. The furnishings were basic, and I ate simply when at home, mostly breakfasts and salads.

The stores are clustered by type along the narrow, cobble-stone streets of San Miguel – pharmacies on Insurgentes, clothing stores on El Reloj, and produce stores on Mesones. One day, I bought some carrots. I didn’t eat them for a couple of days. Then I washed and peeled them, although at home I probably would have left the peels on. Hungry, I cut one into rough junks and took a bite.
This was my Proustian moment, the madeleine of my vegetable experience. I don’t think of myself as a carrot fan in particular. I do like most vegetables, raw or slightly cooked. If anything, I favor dark greens – broccoli, kale, spinach, even Brussels sprouts. But the flavor of this carrot was overwhelmingly good. There wasn’t a hint of bitterness. It was rich and clean tasting. The texture was crisp and tender at the same time. I sliced it up and ate it with sliced tomatoes and lime juice. That carrot tasted of the essence of the color orange.

When I returned home, the carrots were a big disappointment, even the organic carrots that came with dirt clinging to them. So this year, I am attempting to grow some myself.
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