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Sunday, October 03, 2010

"I like th' food"

Dawn patrol
We roll into October warmer than expected, and the garden shows no signs of being willing to be put to bed. So we've excluded the poultry for now, as the chickens were pecking at every tomato that showed a hint of pink.

A benefit of all this hen-scratching has been that they aren't very partial to potatoes. Several sacks full have been uncovered for the picking up without our resorting to the potato hook. With backs as old as ours, that is quite a plus.

Risa has continued juicing and would share her grape-apple-blackberry-tomato recipe but it hasn't found favor with anyone but her, so far. That's the way of it with "yard foodie" cuisine. Once you limit yourself, largely, to what's on hand and in season, your palate quickly adjusts, but this leaves behind most, if not all, of "Rabbit's friends and relations," who may view your concoctions with increasing distrust and distance.

Risa's cooking has improved of late, through practice, but, in the eyes of some, it has suffered from her self-imposed limits of trying to work with what she's grown or gathered. She thinks it's good practice for what's down the road; they'd rather wait and cross that bridge when they come to it. But what if the bridge is down when we all get there? Studied your bridge-building yet?

A study of what's being eaten in "remote" (i.e., not hyper-trained to HFCS) portions of the globe will show that, to most, food is food and be damned glad you've got it. This is much the refrain that Risa heard when she was at table in her childhood; her dad grew up in a very destitute sharecropper's family and experienced the worst of the Depression, an experience that still dictates the old man's views today, at 94.

But there is something to it. The crop gains promised by the "green revolution" -- more and  better chemicals toward a better life for all -- have become more and more unreliable as the weaknesses of monoculture become evident. Also, unfavorable weather is increasing in the presence of a troposphere increasingly laden with moisture and energy as solar heat, bouncing back up through the air as infrared radiation, is trapped in more and more carbon dioxide. This is an effect easily demonstrated in any high school science classroom and vehemently denied by corporate flacks and their favored politicians. As a result, "yard foodies" -- and the odd meals that implies -- seem likely to be a wave of the near future, even in nations that have become accustomed to "plenty."

There was a short-lived sitcom, years ago, that featured a new prisoner being shown the ways of a prison by the experienced cons -- how to cheat the system mostly, but also all the best ways of venting. They were showing him how to bitch about the prison food, but a big Georgia boy a ways down the table, chowing down vigorously, opined, "I like th' food."

Risa's dad laughed loud and long, and ever after, at the drop of some bony squirrel stew from someone's spoon, would pass the terrifying bowl to the visitor again, saying: "I like th' food." It became his all-time favorite expression, to the exasperation of missus and daughter. But, then, he'd been a drill instructor in the military. That's said to affect one's outlook.

Years later, as she desperately invents one over-aged-kale recipe after another in her study of yard-only fooding, Risa remembers the saying. She's tempted to try it on her Safeway-trained visitors. But she's learned to keep two kinds of food supplies on hand, and also to rely on Beloved's greater experience when "entertaining." You gotta know when folks are ready for things, if you hope to see them again any time soon!


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