Crazy for Ginger

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Strolling hungrily through the produce section of the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op recently, I spied an enticing pile of gorgeous ginger. It was clearly the movie-star version of this humble rhizome – swathed in a smooth, ivory-colored skin blushed with patches of rosy pink, its appearance was so different from (and more attractive than) the grocery bag-brown variety I am used to that I had to sniff it several times to believe that it was actually ginger. A produce staffer told me it had just arrived that day from Hawaii, and was so recently plucked that it hadn’t had time to “age,” or form the rough, dry-looking skin most of us associate with the fragrant rhizome. I bought a big hunk, went home, and, well – got a little ginger crazy. I made a big (and exceedingly gingery) stir-fry with pork, bell pepper, zucchini and mushrooms; then baked my all-time-favorite fall dessert: a toasted almond, ginger and date tart, whose recipe I was lucky enough to glean while working in the kitchen at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. The remaining knob of this lovely ginger will get crushed and juiced today, then added to a pitcher of fresh lemonade.

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