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There is no vegetable better than celery.

I find it to be the most pleasant vegetable of them all, not when its mixed in with a salad, nor when cooked up in a stew. The celery I love is pure, naked, and crunchy.

The crunch is essential! It is like a pickle, but more refined. I feel the crushing of the stem under my teeth, the water squeezing out of the vascular tissue. I love pulling on the cuticle, which is always revealed when I take the first bite. It is the string cheese of vegetables, with its long fibers, tightly packed together giving you a nice stalk of nutritious greens. The pickle has none of this, and while it is certainly more sweet, I think the celery gives a satisfaction to many more senses.

The fresher the celery, the better, of course. However, the plant has one special property that allows me to enjoy it when it ages. The increase in psoralen, a furocoumarin, causes an allergic reaction when it touches my tongue. Usually a defense mechanism, the celery sets up a toxic attack to repel any bugs or small mammals to feast on it’s body, but I am not small. The psoralen, instead poisoning me, makes me numb. The numbing sensation is just on the surface of the tongue,  it gives that weird tickle you feel when you sit on your leg too long, and it lasts for as long as you are eating the celery. What pickle can do that? Do apples do it too? No, celery excels at providing me with a sensation that no other vegetable (that I enjoy, carrots can do it too) may offer! What other foods numb the tongue? Spicy foods bring pain, but none of it numbing. Celery is truly a character.

I believe the best way to eat celery is slowly. I like to do so while reading. Passively chewing away at the stalk, slurping down stray fibers, using the pleasant crunch as white noise. It makes me feel like a big ol’ gorilla, sitting in his favorite gorilla-spot, munching down some bamboo shoot full of termites; the perfect condition for reflecting on gorilla-life. It is a calming vegetable, one that grows abundantly and beautiful, naturally sturdy like a tiny tree, and therapeutic to gaze at or eat.

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