Archives for posts with tag: Armchair Travel

My friend Charlie Spring is writing a brilliant and hilarious blog-travel-log about her time on a study fellowship in the US. “I’m going to spend the next two months in North America,” she writes, “meeting people who I hope can teach me lessons to bring home [to the UK]: about the entrenchment of food aid under austerity welfare conditions, about going beyond the food bank model, about participatory democracy and citizen involvement in food system decision-making and doing. About food justice, and food injustice.” Eagerly awaiting each new post, I heartily recommend you follow her writings. Here’s just one snippet that will lead you to more.

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I was in a bad, cynical-feeling place when I got to Rainbow Grocery in the swelter of the day, having seen new dimensions of the homelessness of San Francisco. I felt guilty for entering this cool place of herbs, tonics, plinky music and funky coop members stacking kale chips in polka-dot party dresses, knowing I could afford this food, navigate the wealth of choice on offer. Sort of. Self-service (lots of it) flummoxed me- how much would a handful of decoriated cardamom cost when a pound would cost $50? Gah. You could self serve honey, roasted hazelnut-chocolate butter, tofu, kimchi, vegan chocolate-coated pretzels, pasta, tea, herbs, a million types of granola, dried persimmon, olives. You hold your little compost able bag and open the chute with a knob and gravity sends a landslide of mung beans out over the sides and you try to pull up the sides and once…

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Is it a dip? A pate? Not sure, but three times I’ve found myself bringing spreads made of pumpkin seeds, onion, fresh coriander and pickled jalapeños to parties.  Originally I read a version of Sikil Pak, a Mayan Yucateco dish, interpreted in an extravagantly chef-like way (orange zest, really?) on Tasting Table, and have sought since to backtrack to something more simple to learn about what it could be.

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Corn as “Bio-Artifact.”  Corn through which to understand the relationship between humans and a biological seed, through the dynamics of history.  Corn as a lens to view the tension between Food as a Commons and Food as Commodity.  Corn as a brilliant idea for an art exhibition.  Beam me to Oaxaca, Scotty!

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Well, here’s something to watch– A 1989 Brazilian “documentary” about human beings, animals, farming, social economies, wealth, poverty, hunger…through the singular life trajectory of a tomato. You will be amused and outraged at the same time.  The film is a comment on economic systems, food systems and the human folly that creates such hideous inequity.

There seems to be a debate about whether the scene with people scavenging for what the pigs reject was orchestrated, with people paid to be actors.  Is this a documentary with a metaphorical point, therefore a different kind of documentary, or would such “falseness” reduce the veracity and seriousness of the film which, despite its quirkiness, aspires to literal truth-telling? I’m undecided.

A beautiful song and homage to corn tortillas and women who make them. I hadn’t heard of Lila Downs and now I’m a fan.  I love that she sings in lots of the languages of Mexico, not just Spanish. And I love that all the women in this video are beautiful, not just the lead singer herself!  I’m intrigued at the balance between pop music and something more serious and interesting.  And I like the sampling of different musical styles. Here I am, dancing in my chair.  I hope you will enjoy this too.

I saw this on Root Simple, a wonderful blog “about back to basics, DIY living, encompassing homegrown vegetables, chickens, herbs, hooch, bicycles, cultural alchemy, and common sense”– I reckon many of my readers would like it too.

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A Painting, A Market, An Enticement

I’ve been a collage maker for most of my life,  have boxes and boxes of assorted materials, things I’ve collected, torn from magazines, etc. I have no idea where this is from, but I ripped it out long ago and kept it. And I love it.

I love the scene, the seafood, the eggs, the vegetables (are those cardoons in the front right?), the olives, the people, the bare light bulbs, and especially the loaded moment of the encounter that is just about to happen between the man in the yellow shirt and the woman with the bags and the nice bum.

In its day, I’d guess this would have been thought of as a market, not a farmers market or a specialist market or even, probably, an alternative to a supermarket.  It just WAS.   WHERE people bought their food.  Something to re-envision.

Wish I were there.

Where do we think it takes place? Italy? Spain? Portugal?

And wouldn’t it be wild if a reader were to know more about this picture– who painted it, where I might have seen it originally, etc.

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A mere few hours later:  I am truly blown away.  My friend Vohn, who blogs here, has identified the painter as  Renato Guttoso and this scene as located in the famous Vucciria market of Palermo in Sicily.  Further point of interest:  a google search on the image of this particular painting lead me to another WordPress blog called OrganizedMagnificenceGlory that pictures the same scene realised in a slightly different style. The mystery continues.

PS 22 Jan 2015– if y0u happen up0n this page, make sure t read this update.

Good fortune lured me to a wonderful Forest Gardening/ Edible Perennial website, where I happened upon the Scottish Forest Garden blog on the Yellow Nutsedge –the edible bits thereof also known as Ground Almond — Earth Almond –Earth Chestnut– Tigernut — Chuffa — and botanical name Cyperus esculentus.  And it’s a tuber, not a nut!

Here’s the entry from the Plants for a Future Database . And ya gotta love all the good folk who help to make Wikipedia so enriching–this is an especially good encyclopedia entry in which we learn how important this plant was in ancient Egypt — and that Tigernut Milk can be fermented.  Really worth a read .  And I like this little description of planting and preparing from a gardener in Connecticut.

A very strong and growing interest for me is thinking how to creatively apply historic and global culinary practice to the unusual foods we may need to begin growing and eating  as our climate gets crazier and we need to diversify. There’s lots of information about so many wonderful and delicious edibles, particularly coming from Permaculture resources– and as a creative cook I want to eat interesting, nutritious and delicious foods and to be there responsively to anything that can and will be grown.  And share what I learn with you!

So when I read about the Tigernut, as above, I recognised the name as that mysterious thing from which was made the delicious drink I’d enjoyed in Barcelona. Here you can see the website of the orxateria where I was so enamored of  this yummy creamy sweet comforting drink called Horchata– and a little promotional video with a song that brings laughter and a little dance — and another bit of Armchair Travel:

If I had these “nuts” I would make Horchata with a recipe like this one.  Yes, I’d experiment with using less sugar… The Latin American versions are centred on ingredients like almonds, rice, cinnamon– and I’m sure are most delicious as well.

Really I am very concerned indeed about our agricultural future, for lots of interlocking reasons.  Imagining what to make with what we could grow gives me a kind of hope– or at least, a potential project.

PS 18 April 2014  Here’s a fascinating piece on a brilliant blog about the History of the Nutsedge in Ancient Egypt.

PPS 9 April 2015 Here’s a very informative article from a Paleo perspective, and others.

Here is a little armchair travel for someone who has committed herself to reduce her involvement with the very Greenhouse-Gas intensive aviation industry. This means, though I LOVE going places and seeing things and meeting people and having adventures and eating delicious food, I don’t really venture far away it as much as I would in a different world-historical scenario.

But: I can stumble upon wishes on the internet, and this, quite strongly, is one.

Read about this amazing Pre-Hispanic soup and the people who make it.

If you are on Facebook, read about an exciting documentary The Path of Stone Soup that examines the history and ritual of this very beautiful and delicious sounding soup.

Dried Cholla Buds and Tepary Beans

Was just having a lazy browse on the Saveur Magazine website, and noticed a piece called “6 Native American Ingredients.” Curiously I clicked on a link, and found this website  for the Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona. They have a small on-line shop. I would absolutely LOVE to try these cactus buds, and the tepary beans, brown and white both. They also have a magazine about traditional and contemporary foodways that looks great! Someday, someday, because I am so far (and postage would probably be prohibitive) but if you happen to be in the USA, you could order yourself those beans and buds and cook them up and tell me all about it.

Here’s another useful link should you happen to be in a cold, wet, constant drizzle of a climate like Wales dreaming of the soul foods of  a hot, dry dessert:

http://www.flordemayoarts.com/pages/cholla.html

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11 March 2014   Just read this Zester Daily piece on Decolonizing the Taste Buds from commodity foods….

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