It's always a treat getting a box in the post. A refrigerated box, which in my experience has sometimes meant roses and sometimes chocolates, is even more exciting. And now that I've signed up as a Kawakami Farms supporter, I can look forward to big, chilled boxes of seasonal produce every two weeks. I'll admit that I was sceptical about the idea of mail-order vegetables at first, but so far they've arrived perfectly intact and far more delicious than any I've ever bought. They're so fresh - just look how the stems on two of these tomatoes are still green, as if they'd just been picked. Since the box was mailed two days ago, I know the tomatoes have been off the vine at least that long - and I think that suggests something about how long it's been since the ones in the store were growing in the dirt.
Speaking of dirt, the potatoes are dusty and humble-looking, but they're some of the best I've tasted. Japanese potatoes in general are sort of a cross between the waxy and floury types we eat in the US - they're small and thin-skinned, but have a much more fluffy interior than our new potatoes. These are buttery and sweet, not just a background starch but a star flavor in their own right. I've had a sack of them in all three shipments I've received from Kawakami Farms so far, and I've had no trouble eating them all up in time for the next box.
This week's box was almost an embarrassment of riches, with far more than the promised 3-5 types of vegetables. I know that summer is the season when most vegetables grow, so it shouldn't really be a surprise - but unpacking my box, pulling another and yet another cellophane bag out of the newspaper nesting, felt like discovering Ali Baba's treasure cave. Tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, garlic, eggplants, okra, green and yellow peppers, and water spinach - quite a harvest to arrive at my door in a cardboard box!