The past week or so, I've been on a little bit of a cooking jag. This has not gone unnoticed by the Free-Ride offspring.
Elder offspring: Why have you been making us so many yummy things to eat this week?
Dr. Free-Ride: I guess I'm going to miss cooking for you while I'm away at the conference this weekend.
Younger offspring: (with a melodramatic look of anguish) You won't be here this weekend!
Elder offspring: But since your shuttle to the airport comes at 4:20, we can see you tomorrow when we come home from school and before we go to ice skating.
Dr. Free-Ride: Uh, no, my shuttle comes at 4:20 AM.
Younger offspring: There's a 4:20 AM??
Dr. Free-Ride: I was surprised at that, too!
Dr. Free-Ride: So, it turns out every dish I'm serving tonight has a member of the Allium family in it. I sauteed the mushrooms with some shallots, I cooked the baby bok choy with some onions, the spring salad has scallions, and the broth for the matzoh-ball soup has a whole mess of garlic (plus some yellow onion and some scallion). It's a regular Allium bonanza.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: Wow!
Dr. Free-Ride: If only I had had some leeks.
Younger offspring: What's Allium?
Elder offspring: Like onion and garlic -- that family.
Dr. Free-Ride: Yes. Did you know they're all part of the lily family?
Younger offspring: Really?
Elder offspring: Like the calla lilies in our yard?
Younger offspring: Can we eat those?
Dr. Free-Ride: No. Actually, I'm not sure. Are they poisonous?
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: I don't know.
Dr. Free-Ride: Do they just taste bad? Are they less cost-effective a source of food than onions and garlic and leeks?
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: Surely the answer is out there somewhere.
Dr. Free-Ride: I hate to look up an answer when we could probably do an experiment. Then again, I don't think I want to do an experiment to determine which members of the lily family might be poisonous here in our house.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: Good point. We'll do it in someone else's house.
Elder offspring and younger offspring: (in unison) No!
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: I was kidding. So, what part of the plant is an onion?
Elder offspring: The bulb.
Dr. Free-Ride: Is the bulb part of the root? I know there are roots coming out of it ...
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: Let's check. [We consulted Kingsley R. Stern, Introductory Plant Biology (3rd ed.), from which the illustration above was taken.] Hmm, it's a specialized stem!
Elder offspring: So is a tuber, and a rhizome, and a ... corm?
Dr. Free-Ride: A potato is a tuber, and ginger root is a rhizome. I ... I'm not sure I know any corms.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: (consulting the index and flipping to the section on corms) It looks like taro is the food corm you're most likely to encounter.
Dr. Free-Ride: So you kids are eating lots of bulbs tonight. What part of the plant is that bok choy?
Elder offspring and younger offspring: (in unison) The leaves!
Dr. Free-Ride: What part of the plant is the mushroom?
Elder offspring and younger offspring: (in unison) It's fungus, not plant!
Dr. Free-Ride: I should have known I couldn't trick you on that one!
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: What part of the plant is a matzoh ball?
Younger offspring: It's not part of a plant!
Dr. Free-Ride: But it's made from plant-matter.
Elder offspring: It's made from matzoh meal -- which is made from wheat!
Dr. Free-Ride: And what kind of plant is wheat?
Elder offspring and younger offspring: (in unison) A grass!
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: Moo!
Dr. Free-Ride: What?
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: These kids are eating grass.
Elder offspring: (with an exasperated look) We're eating something made with the seeds of a grass.
Younger offspring: We're not cows.
I grieve for your lack of leeks.
Your kids are so smart! How old are they? They're lucky to have parents who teach them so much, in such fun ways.
Yeah, I always tune in for the Friday Sprog Blogging and I never know whether I should be impressed or threatened that two children who do not remember the Clinton era are smarter than I am.
It's much, much worse, when it's your own five year old child, who is smarter than you are - or at least asks really great questions.
Last night, we were reading a book about wooly mammoths. In this great picture inside, there are (among many others) wooly rhinos. His question - "did the wooly rhinos "ewolve" from the mammoths?" So now I have to try to find better pictures of wooly rhinos (preferabley with internal crosscut and skeletal pictures), so we can do a better comparison with which to develope our hypothesis. I also need to find out the answer.
It's sad that I have learned more about evolution in the last six months, than I learned in the preceeding thirty years.
Calla lilies, despite the name, are not in the family Liliaceae, but in the family Araceae. They are more closely related to philodendrons than onions.