Tobias Johnson is 30. "I've never tasted a raw tomato until I came in here. Never," he says. "But I tried it with some salt, and man, it was sweet."New gourmands at the Cook County Jail.
He has tasted ketchup, but never a tomato. On the West and South sides where he grew up, his meals came in buckets and from drive-through windows.
Now Johnson has tried fennel, endive and Swiss chard. He can tell marjoram from sage, Thai basil from regular basil.
At Charlie Trotter's, executive chef Matthias Merges uses the garden's zucchini in several dishes: a tempura-fried zucchini blossom stuffed with ricotta and capers, and another course that features a slow-braised zucchini with caraway seed and olive oil. They buy from the jail garden not just for the philanthropy, but, as Merges reasoned, because the product is good.A new kind of victory garden.
...Now the question is whether Chicagoans can afford it.