Appreciating the Under-Appreciated


The idea for The Garden of Eva was born in the parking lot of Kam Man Foods, a pan-Asian supermarket in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 2012. I was living there and went to buy unwaxed lemons. I was planning to make a Moroccan tagine and needed preserved lemons. At that time, they weren't available in specialty shops so I decided to make them.

As I sat there waiting for the supermarket to open, my mind ran along my experiences pickling and preserving with my Virginia-born mother, father, and older sister. Those memories collided with memories of my travels abroad in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean and my passion for local, lesser-known food cultures. I reflected on how many delightful pickles and preserves from various cultures were not as appreciated (in my opinion) as they should be. They were not viewed as elegant or worthy of paying the same price that one would pay for certain condiments from certain cultures.

In that moment, the vision for The Garden of Eva was born: making pickles and preserves from all over the world. It took a while to figure out that the best way to sell the concept was to start with the pickles and preserves from my American Southern heritage - this became the mission.

I inherited my passion for foods from the American South from Mom, who was a superb home cook (she would have done brilliantly on MasterChef). She made everything from the best Creole pork chops and collard greens to recipes from Julia Child and the Grand Diplome cookbook series (I started cooking from it when I was about 4 or 5). Mom had range and did not see the Creole pork chops and collard greens as any less interesting or worthy than the recipes she made from Grand Diplome. She put respect and passion into pickling watermelon rind after we had eaten the flesh; and into making Chow Chow, a multi-vegetable pickled relish that goes with deli meats and leafy greens. Mom took great pride in serving the pickled watermelon rind in a crystal dish during the Christmas dinner parties that she and Daddy hosted at our house. It paired beautifully with the turkey, ham, and cheeses that adorned the dining room table and sideboard.

This is the approach that I am bringing to pickles and preserves that appear in refrigerators in Southern households and on kitchen tables in many immigrant houses. They're delicious, creative, and worthy.

So when you go to Whole Foods Market UK this week, absolutely buy piccalilli and gherkins! But grab a jar of The Garden of Eva's American Southern pickled watermelon rind (upcycled, by the way!!!) and eat it with crackers and cheese. Maybe try our Chow Chow with that charcuterie board. Put a dollop of our chili-watermelon jam on that toastie. You'll thank me; I promise! 😁

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