Garden Diary - May 2022

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Upcoming in June at the New York Botanical Garden:
Around the Table: Stories of the Foods We Love

It's almost the end of May. My friends with vegetable gardens are busy planting out all the tender vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers both sweet and hot that were started earlier.

Farmer's markets, even grocery stores, are offering locally grown asparagus. Corn is being shipped up from down south. I'll wait, just as I do for satin skinned tomatoes, bursting with juice and wonderful flavor, so much better than winter's tomato shaped vegetable products.

Opening on Saturday, 4 June 2022, the New York Botanical Garden will be featuring a garden-wide presentation celebrating plants as the foundation of all culinary customs. The exhibition honors the diversity and beauty of plants that grown for cuisines all over the world, and the central role food plays in many of life's most important events. To illustrate the exhibition's major themes, 30 Bronx artists were chosen to create artworks that will incorporate featured and other notable food plants. The tables and accompanying interpretation highlight the plants' history and cultural significance.

Digital painting by André Trenier, 2022, provided courtesy New York Botanical Garden

The artists' tables will illuminate an abundance of edible plants, from global dietary staples, including rice, beans, squash, and corn, to the regional spice and flavor provided by peppers, greens, and tomatoes, as well as interesting narratives tied to the lamb's quarters plant, ackee fruit, the teff supergrain, and more. They will be on view in places visitors might expect to see a table, and in other less obvious sites such as tucked into specialty gardens and living plant collections across The New York Botanical Garden's landscape. Some tables will also illustrate how ingredients, dishes like sofrito and paella, and ceremonial gatherings such as the Passover seder bring people together and preserve cultural and historic memories for generations.

Aromatics - onion, thyme, garlic, bay leaf and carrots . . . platter of hot peppers
A diversity of heirloom tomatoes on a kitchen counter . . . dish of fresh shell beans

The New York Botanical Garden announced its selection of 30 local artists, living or working in the Bronx, as finalists to design and create tables that will be on display across the Botanical Garden's 250 acres, as a major component of the upcoming Around the Table: Stories of the Foods We Love. The Garden-wide, multi-faceted exhibition, on view from June 4 through September 11, 2022, will examine the art and science of foodways and food traditions, many dating back thousands of years, exploring the cultural, horticultural, environmental, and historical significance of what we eat.

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