Asian Vegetables vs Western Vegetables


No wonder kids in this country won’t eat their veggies. Most grocery stores in America sell vegetables that are simply not tasty. I’m getting sick and tired of western1 vegetables like collard greens, kale, and Swiss chard that taste like the fibrous end of a nasty stalk of celery. They’re tough not tender, bitter not sweet, dry not juicy. Eating vegetables I buy at my local Fairway (with the exception of broccolini) is like receiving an enema if you’ve got fecal impaction. It’s not pleasant, but you have to do it. Asian vegetables, on the other hand, are yummier, sweeter, and tenderer.

My mother buys a truckload of succulent greens every week from Boston’s Chinatown. Upon hearing my rave reviews, friends who’ve never seen or heard of vegetables with origins in Asia always ask for names. “I don’t know the English names,” I reply. I’ve always only referred to them in Mandarin. My friends then slink back home to eat their collard greens and kale. So this long-awaited post is for them, you, and anybody else who would like to bring excitement and joy back into their vegetable-eating life. After you’re convinced at the end of this post and are ready to cook these vegetables, please don’t treat them like the way Americans usually treat their greens: either raw or boiled/steamed/cooked into a soggy dish of mush. Just stir fry or sauté with a bit of salt or soy sauce and garlic cloves. It’s really not that hard.

I’ve only written about green vegetables. Next time I’ll post info about bamboo shoots and fungi.

  1. I’m going to ignore the problematic usage of “Western” and “Eastern” as capitalized adjectives that have accrued way too much baggage for me to unpack any piece of it. For those who have any inkling of what I’m talking about, read Edward Said’s Orientalism if you haven’t already. For those who have no clue, read Orientalism anyways.