farm to table

It’s hard to get in the spirit of gardening when I look outside and see the world covered in white. Nevertheless, I have just spent the past hour pouring over a seed catalog, excited at the vision of new raised beds in a garden I haven’t touched in over seven years. It’s time. No more excuses about the poor soil or the yard full of rabbits and other interested critters, or living in a region rich with CSA’s and organic produce that I can purchase easily. I have been yearning for a prolific vegetable garden of my own for as long as I can remember and wonder at how long it has taken for me to finally make the commitment to this endeavor…

A week now since my return from St. John and I’ve just finished looking at photos from the last night dining out. We heard it was ‘farm to table’ night at a local restaurant, featuring the skills of a new local chef/cook, preparing a limited menu in limited proportions from locally grown and raised food. We arrived to find a very casual atmosphere that included the usual deli sandwich bar and an ad hoc table set up in the far corner for ordering the featured menu of the four items. One of the choices, a tuna tartare, was finished and already scratched off the menu. From the remaining three I chose a seasonal ‘soup’ accompanied by homemade bread with turmeric butter, and a fresh greens salad. I paid, left my name, and sat at the large picnic table, waiting with the group I came with after getting a crisp cold glass of pinot grigio. When my food arrived I felt the thrill of being presented with something truly authentic….

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The soup was deliciously creamy with a distinctive character of celery.  The greens featured a large dark green leaf that had the taste and texture of a crisp spinach.  What a thrill!  It wasn’t that what I had been eating out the past week was bad, just that there was a noticeable lack of fresh produce with exorbitant prices for even the simplest salad.  (The only exception at this point was the surprise of discovering unbelievably fresh papaya.  This was a lip smacking juicy wonder, not the pale bland cousin found in the markets of the northeast weary from travel…)  While eating out I sampled local specialties like jerk chicken and lovely fish sandwiches made with grilled local mahi mahi, all good. But this was the first time in the week I felt compelled to pull out my camera to remember this feeling of having a meal placed in front of me that looked, smelled, and had the energy of the real deal. I imagined fresh grated turmeric and locally made butter and cream. The greens were so lightly coated with the most fragrant dressing that I wondered if there was even oil in it.  It all suggested a skillfully prepared simple meal that utilized a minimum of anything processed in places far away from where we sat. I chewed and sipped slowly, savoring each mouthful and when finished, felt that clean clear satisfaction of having had just enough…

I followed this feeling into the next morning and couldn’t wait to cut into the second large whole papaya that was purchased at a local market and chilled overnight. This fruit was a lusciously ripe deep orange that I had never seen before and had become the perfect first food of breakfast in my tent each morning.  Without knowing the fact of the matter, my heart told me it was picked recently and from somewhere nearby…

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An acquired taste, a perfectly ripe papaya is also a creamy affair, fragrantly smooth and not too sweet…

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I scoop out the seeds for compost (though I have come to learn that the seeds are also edible, something to look forward to experimenting with the next time graced with such a perfectly ripe specimen, smile).  Cut the fruit length wise into long slices, carefully peel the skin with a sharp knife, section into large bite size pieces, fill a bowl, and eat slowly while watching the sun offer the same life affirming color to the cloudy morning sky…

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Memory now complete, I look back out to the winter white and rest in anticipation of creating my very own ‘farm to table’ each day…

2 thoughts on “farm to table

  1. Oh, the excitement of looking through a seed catalog… and the anticipation of planting in the Spring… fills a heart with joy! I so love playing in the dirt! 🙂

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