Photo by Eleanor Barkhorn
The salad I helped make earlier this week at Miriam's Kitchen--a meals program that serves the homeless here in Washington, D.C.--was heavy on the goodies cooks often include to make diners forget they're eating something green. It featured thickly-cut croutons and sliced radishes and was drenched in a creamy, garlicky buttermilk dressing. But it also included one ingredient few other salad-makers have at their disposal: lettuce from the White House garden.
I was, of course, thrilled to be given the task of assembling a salad with such illustrious lettuce. I've been fascinated by the project since it broke ground in March (I'm not alone--Michelle Obama said the two things foreign heads of state invariably ask her about are the garden and First Dog Bo). And I've been reading about all the produce that's come out of the garden: more than 700 pounds so far, according to the report from yesterday's fall harvest celebration at the White House.
But, probably along with every other Washington locavore, I despaired of ever having the chance to try some myself. The fruits and vegetables from the garden go to meals for the Obamas and soup kitchens like Miriam's but are not available on the free market--not even at the seductively titled Farmers Market by the White House. (There is some wonderful food at that market, though, including pillow-like almond macaroons from Praline Bakery and a wide range of organic fruits and vegetables from Blueberry Hill Farm, The Farm at Sunnyside--where our own Sara Lipka is an intern--and many others.)