Saturday, June 28, 2008

the subtleties, both named and unnamed

Note to future boyfriends: food gets me going.

Well, I should clarify. I don't mean as an aphrodisiac, although I won't rule out the sexy, intoxicating powers of a delicious, home-cooked meal, either. What I mean is reading about food, planning meals from food my neighbours grew, and just plain thinking about good, organic food gets me excited, in a way some people get excited over their academic calling or a trip abroad.

Just now I was on the couch, having a wondrously lazy Saturday afternoon, dozing off and then waking up and reading a bit more. I was reading some of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", a present from Grandmaman, which means I can savor it one paragraph at a time, and even write in the margins. (If there's one thing I like about as much as homegrown food, it's writing in the margins of my books.) Barbara Kingsolver, the bestselling author and Kentuckian mother of two who wrote the book, has a wry yet hopeful and enchanted tone that carries the reader through the book, and which was carrying me this particular afternoon.

There was more than just a tone of voice, though. Maybe it's the fact that we need food to live, and therefore, I hypothesize, I'm biologically hardwired to find it interesting. And even if this were the only reason I'm drawn to reading recipe books, it wouldn't necessarily have to be a mundane reason. Just because I have to eat, that doesn't mean it's boring to me. There isn't a causal relationship there.

But there really is more to it than that, to my mind. It's more than just an "instinct". There's a science about it, about gardening and growing, and there is also an art to it, to using one's intuition in mixing tastes and textures on the plate. And the supposed dichotomy of science and art isn't all there is, either: there are so many subtle enjoyments to "food life" that you'd have to be akin to a wine connoisseur to name them all. (Personally, I've never tasted hints of black currant or chocolate in wine, but I still like the wine. Just because my palate isn't as sensitive as another's doesn't mean (A) I don't believe them, or (B) I don't enjoy the subtleties unnamed.)

Even though Cape Breton's climate is behind Kentucky's, so that Kingsolver's harvest of peas and early broccoli in late May doesn't QUITE apply here — we're lucky if we're harvesting those veggies in late July — reading her words got my mind wandering through the garden beds, daydreaming about the tomato seedlings I planted the other day, which I had grown from seed. (Yes, the same seedlings I featured on this blog in May!) I also got thinking about the local farmers I know who grow far more than we do, quantity-wise, and from whose bounty I am excited about purchasing summer vegetables, as they ripen. Not only that, but these thoughts generated sparks of electricity which in turn touched off more thoughts. The possibilities of the future: of meeting other farmers as yet unknown, of exploring the properties of farmer friends I'm only just getting to know now, of maybe someday owning my own patch of Cape Breton land, and bringing up crops on it.

So now you can see why I say that food gets me going. And I'm only a third of the way through the book! Not only that, but it's only June and the peas are still vines climbing their way up the trellises!

Back to the couch, methinks. At least for today.

Also: I know, I said I'm on a writing break of sorts, but after reading and then getting all excited, well, I just had to write, and then once I had written, I had to post! I hope you enjoy both this one and the one I wrote yesterday. Lemme know.

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