When I first moved to Boston, I had to learn to understand a new language. The milkshake that I grew up with is called a frappe here. A can of pop is called a tonic. And of course there's the famous sentence that highlights the local accent "I pahked my cah in Hahvahd Yahd." But Boston (and New England) also has its own foods. I grew up thinking that clams only came in strips but here they come with bellies. Our "chowdah" has, of course, become world famous. And then we have the lesser known fiddlehead.
Fiddleheads are the unfurled fronds of the ostrich fern. They're only in season for a few short weeks and apparently some people go crazy for them. I've had them several times and I don't dislike them but I don't love them either. I would say I'm indifferent to them.

When I saw them at Whole Foods today, I thought I'd pick some up and try them again. They came with instructions. You're supposed to soak and/or wash them several times. If not washed properly, I guess they can be bitter. And then you boil them in salted water, or steam them, until cooked.

Finally, saute them with olive oil (or butter), garlic and red pepper flakes. I've had them splashed with a little vinegar so I thought I'd try using a little lemon to brighten them up.
And here's the final product.
What do they taste like you ask? Well, it's hard to describe. The flavor is very subtle. Some people say they taste a little like green beans but I think the texture is maybe like a green bean but I don't get a green bean flavor. I get a very subtle asparagus flavor but I'm talking very subtle. I guess the best way to describe the taste is like, well, ferns.
There's no question that fiddleheads are fun. The name is cute and bright green spirals couldn't be more beautiful. While I'm still a little indifferent about the taste of fiddleheads, they're a sure sign of spring!

Have you ever seen them before? And if you've tried them, do you like them?

 
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