Ramen may be giving poke a run for its money where new restaurant openings are concerned. In recent months, Momo Ramen and Poke took over the space that was occupied for many years by O’Henry’s; the Little Tokyo folks opened an Izakaya-style restaurant on Veterans, and a lot of sushi restaurants now have the soup on their menus. Next up appears to be Union Ramen, which chef Nhat Nguyen plans to open on Magazine Street in the Garden District later this year. Nguyen was the opening chef at Kin, and I was amazed by his food there, so I’m looking forward to this one.
I have written a good deal about foraging in this space over the last several years, and one of the things that got me interested in the topic was the fact that there are edible plants all around us masquerading as “weeds.” I believe the first plant to really bring this home to me was pellitory, a delicate weed that thrives in cooler weather along walls and fences that tastes remarkably like cucumber.
Now that I’m aware, when I go into my backyard I see a half-dozen or more plants that I know are edible; whether they’re tasty enough to actually eat is another question. But despite my interest, I’m no zealot. There are folks whose advice about “wild edibles” I respect a great deal who have barely concealed contempt for an aspect of modern life so ubiquitous it goes without note to most people: grass.
It is rare that I pass a single-family house in New Orleans that does not have at least some grass growing in front, though there certainly are folks who choose landscaping instead. My point in all of this is that while I agree with some of the points raised in a recent article I read on Earther, I don’t reach the same conclusion: that grass lawns are stupid and should be banned. I know that’s a courageous position to take, but that’s what I’m here for, kids.
Lawns have an aesthetic value, they are pleasant to walk and play on, and though other plants do it better, they do have a positive impact on carbon dioxide. I haven’t looked into the numbers cited by the author of the anti-grass article, and given the general bent I’m reluctant to accept them at face value, but there are a lot of things that one can do to make “lawns” better without eliminating them. Cut your grass less frequently – this one appeals to my inherent laziness where grass cutting comes in around this time of year. Use an electric mower. Do add other plants to your yard, whether edible or decorative, both for visual interest and to attract pollinators.