Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Seasonal eating

We have fallen into the habit of eating seasonally and locally. We're not purists - some things like tinned tomatoes and bananas are staples - but the 'extras' - the fruit and vegetables - appear in the kitchen only at certain times of the year. This pattern is partly chosen by me as I read books like Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and Kingslover's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. But largely, our eating is shaped by the garden: once you've hard home grown corn, lettuce, tomatoes, peaches, almost anything really, it's hard to accept the stuff available in the shops.

I bought one of those packs of fancy lettuce the other day and what a sad and flaccid collection greeted me, nothing like the robust and handsome leaves from my own garden. And I'd never eat a peach or strawberry I didn't grow myself because they won't be perfectly ripe, warmed by the sun and beautiful

(I admit this is a romanticisation of the strawberry situation, where in reality Lucy picks off the fruit as soon as they are even slightly flushed with pink.)

A couple of days ago Lucy was talking about summer, when there would be blackberries, strawberries, peaches and raspberries. She links food to the seasons. I was so pleased. This is important to us, that both girls know where their food comes from and how to get it. I am hoping this knowledge will be familiar and comfortable to them, a taken for granted part of the way their world works. Why does this matter? I'm not so sure. It's not about making them better people - a few home grown beans and some anticipation won't do that. Something to ponder as I plant out a passionfruit this weekend.


And on seasons: Norma's asparagus are up but mine are not. There's a world of envy and worry in that simple sentence. I looked over the fence to see how her garden grows and there they were: bold and upright and incredibly ugly, looking like three troll p*nises ( or is it p*nii? Or even penaux?) - green and lumpy and not at all delicious. Still, there they are and there mine are not. I have a small cold place in my heart as I see her success and the tardiness of my roots. Every unit of nurturing and love the garden creates in me is counter-balanced by competitiveness and covetousness. I am an ugly soul, deep down, to be resentful of an old lady neighbour's vegetable success!

Now off to listen to The Triffid's Born Sandy Devotional with Al, and ponder again the absolute beauty and heartbreak of Wide Open Road.


VictoriaE said...

Well, as long as Norma doesn't know you're jelous of her..

blue milk said...

I love reading your posts - how you fit so many elements into one tight little post, I just marvel in delight. Whimsy, humour, thoughtfulness, parenting, individuality, ethics, beauty - and on and on.

We used to buy our vegies from an organic farmer who moonlighted at and therefore delivered to my partner's work but they went broke in the drought. Very sad. He would just deliver us a box for a set price each week of whatever vegies were ripened and I really liked planning our menu for the week around our box of vegies, of being tied to the workings of that little farm. He also introduced us to kale - I had to get on the internet to find vegetarian recipes for kale because none of our cookbooks included it. Was fun.

Alas, if we ate what grew in our garden we'd be eating possum droppings.

Theresa Bakker said...

Oh, I am so with you. Trying to eat locally over here and just finishing Omnivore's Dilemma, too. But I'm an awful gardener. Luckily my world is filled with green thumbs who like to share the wealth.

Theresa Bakker said...

PS I love that you tell us what you're eating from the garden, but what is rocket?

Kris said...

Victoria: I tihnk Norma is too upstanding to even be aware of the existence of jealousy. She's also very generous with her flowers and produce, which makes my ugly emotions even uglier.

Blue milk - it wasn't Sprio, was it? Al and some friends used to get his boxes - so cheap! It would be such a shame if he had gone (though a shame too for anyone producer going broke in these condition)

Therea - rocket is a salad vegetable. It's tough and peppery and tend to last through heat and cold better than a lotof lettuce. It self-seeds like crazy. One packet of seeds would do you forever, even with that unforgiving garden you were discussing in the post. I think rocket is called aragula in the U.S.