We started so well. Before I met you, I’d heard all about you. There’s even a book that uses you in the title. Famous chefs put you in everything. You party with foie gras and white truffles even though you cost only a fraction of what they do. The English call you rocket—what’s more exciting than a rocket? My inability to find you around here made you alluring, rare, valuable. Sometimes you showed up in the herb section at $3 for a little box, but I wouldn’t buy you then because I knew you weren’t an herb so much as a lettuce. I’ll never forget the day I finally bought your seeds and planted you in my window. You peeped through the soil and promised me a celebrated gourmet experience. I also remembered a weird smell that I attributed to the plastic pot I planted you in.
The day I harvested you, I dressed you in lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, a grind of black pepper, and sea salt. The first taste burned my mouth. They call you peppery for a reason! But there was that weird smell again. I shook it off. They say you have to try a food at least 10 times before you can decide if you really like it. So I put you in every salad I ate last summer. One vendor at the farmer’s market started selling you in huge bags for only $2. I ate you every day for weeks. Now you’re so popular around here that you appear in spring salad mixes, are sold at my health food store, and once, I even tasted you in a cheap buffet salad at one of those all-you-can-eat places that my mother drags me to.
Well, it’s been a year now and I can’t ignore it anymore. You have a, uh…a BO problem. It’s not a good BO problem either, like the kind you smell in fish sauce or Stilton; it’s a bad BO problem, like the kind you smell in marathon feet and hairy bananas. Multiple washings don’t help. Cooking does, but frankly, you don’t hold up well then. Spinach and kale satisfy my need for cooked greens much better.
I don’t despise you, arugula, we’ve been through too much together for hate. But I can’t say I like you much either. If you pop up here and there, I can live with that, but I won’t look for you anymore. The thrill is gone.