I probably first read The Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White when I was 7 years old. I remember being enthralled by the book, and ever since, I have loved the song, Beautiful Dreamer, which the mute swan Louis plays to woo his lady friend, Serena. I don’t remember much else about the book, but for some reason I vividly remember that Louis and 11-year-old Sam eat watercress sandwiches.
This was the only experience I ever had with watercress until we grew it ourselves (though thinking back, I’m pretty sure it grew in the neighbour’s stream, growing up, but I didn’t know what it was at the time).
Now, I’m very impressed that Sam ate watercress sandwiches. I can’t imagine many 11-year-olds who would do that.
Watercress is in the mustard family, and it’s glossy leaves are sharply bitter, like a mixture of arugula and radishes. They are delicious, but challenging for the palate of a child. I enjoy them on a cheese sandwich (and my 11-year-old does, too), but I’m not sure I would want an entire sandwich of nothing but watercress.
Still, watercress is a great way to spark up salads and sandwiches, and I look forward to trying it in soups and stir-fries as well.