Thursday, January 17, 2008

You Know You Are a Localvore When

Mashed Turnips

Eating local did not end with the shipment of the first peach in January. I've been poking away, a bit at Ann Vileisis's intriguing new book, Kitchen Literacy. She discusses the rise of modern food sensibility, away from eating local. Speaking of the rise of Del Monte canned goods in the 1920's:
The message was unequivocal: In earlier times, Mother Nature had merited the reputation of providing over and over again. Her unending abundance was considered miraculous in its own right. But in the modern order, it was no longer dazzling enough to merely to provide a yearly harvest. Annihilating distance, merging seasons, and accumulating all harvests, it was technology of the human can that now deserved reverence and awe.
She goes on to show how Del Monte lured eaters with promises of abundant farms in California, Oregon and Hawaii. The can made consumers want their food, that food, not the food grown nearby.

Their food seemed sexier, more glamorous. Why, because our food, Northern food, northern food, winter food, consisted of beets and rutabagas and turnips. Depression food. If you could, you'd rather a nice can of food. There was a time when the finest restaurants would not think twice about serving those canned peas. Famous French dishes were built around the canned peach. Yet, now, in the modern era, we take our mashed turnips and we like it.

I cannot tell you how happy it made me last night when I saw my peeling away at some turnips. First of all, she was doing some wise culling, finding the most sprouting thing in the basement fridge. Second, she was making mashed turnips. Am I a lucky guy. She did balance the bite of the turnips with Yukon Gold potatoes. I cannot give you the rest of the recipe because she banished me from the kitchen before the actual mashing process (for whatever reason she's not keen on me publishing her recipes, she would not let me know all the spicing on her cholent the other day to keep me from posting its recipe). There was obviously butter and cream and salt, and all I can say is it was not just me who liked it. The kidz had two portions.

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