On the Farm: Yuma Lettuce Days

A new location for the fest takes fans straight to the leafy source.

LOVELY LETTUCE: There are certain foodstuffs that the majority of people almost never eat singly, without another ingredient or add-on involved. Lettuce has to be prominent on this list, for while we might consume it in a sandwich, or in a salad, it almost never arrives on our plate undressed by oil and vinegar or untouched by bread and cheese. Which is a bit unfortunate, really; ask any leaf lover about the crunchy complexities of that ubiquitous green and you are likely to be schooled in notes of bitterness, in notes of depth, in how the very deep-greenest end of a leaf can be a distant relative to the leaf's palest part in both flavor and mouth-feel. If you've been pondering how you can unleash lettuce and free it from its common placement in sandwiches and salads, here's a start: Yuma Lettuce Days. 

GO FARM: The Big Y is know as an agricultural powerhouse, and the fields full of bountiful fresh goodness bear this reputation out. The rep gets a big heft come late winter, though, when the town fetes one of its most famous exports with a full weekend of food-focused happenings and lettuce love. But here's the tasty twist on the Feb. 28 and March 1 party: While past Lettuce Days have landed closer to the historic downtown -- think Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park -- the 2015 feastival (yes, feastival) shall head for the "working research farm" at the University of Arizona's Yuma Agricultural Center. This is way cool (yes, way cool) because how many food festivals actually land at where the celebrated foodstuff grows? Very few, is the correct answer.

ON THE SCHEDULE: A Recipe Box tasting event, "Chop-Chop Challenge" cooking events, vegetable carving, and a "Toss It Up" salad bar. Call it as bountiful and a giant wooden salad bowl filled with all sorts of lettuces, and as flavorful, too. And if you're doing the healthy, new-year's-resolution-y eating thing, well, the star of this festival is where it is at. Seriously, who would dare cut down on lettuce at the start of a fresh year? It's what we all could use a little more of, outside of the sandwich and beyond the bowl.

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