Sustainable WNC

The Gateway to Sustainability in Western North Carolina

Archive for April, 2007

A Book to Read

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

I am just finishing Heat by Bill Buford. One of the best ‘insider’ stories on food, cooking and restaurants.

I want to pass on a quote from the end of the book that I think is a great take on ‘Slow’:

“My theory is one of smallness. Smallness is now my measure: a variation on all the phrases I’d been hearing, like the Maestro’s “it’s not in the breed but the breeding” or Enrico’s “less is more.” As theories go mine is pretty crude. Small food - good. Big food - bad. For me, the language we use to talk about modern food isn’t quite accurate or at least doesn’t account for how this Italian valley has taught me to think. The metaphor is usually one of speed: fast food has ruined our culture; slow food will save it (and is the rallying manifesto for the movement of the same name, based in Bra, in northern Italy)…….But it obscures a fundamental problem, which has little to do with speed and everything to do with size……..The problem was already in place, systemic in fact, and began the moment food was treated like an inanimate object - like any other commodity - that could be manufactured in increasing numbers to satisfy a market. In effect, the two essential players in the food chain ( those who make food and those who buy it) swapped roles. One moment the producer (the guy who knew his cows or the the woman who prepared culatello only in January….) determined what was available and how it was made. The next moment it was the consumer……”Heat - Bill Buford 2006

I think this idea is most profound. It points the way to a better ‘table’. Let the season and the producer guide you in what you eat. Go to the local tailgate this year and see what’s there - then decide what you are going to cook and what you are going to eat.

Read the book. As a chef and a passionate devotee of food, it is one of the best I’ve read.

Joyful dining - Mark

The Color of Milk

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

I usually try to spend at least one full day in my kitchen at home. At the moment I am working on a new menu featuring food from within 100 miles.

Today I have been testing some simple ideas, working with basic recipes. This evening’s meal will be Lasagne with Blue Hill Farm Egg Pasta, Local Milk Bechamel and Spinning Spider Cheddar. I might throw in some Jake’s Farm Spinach, or that could be my salad. I am very interested in the taste difference using these ingredients to make the lasagne.

What I did not expect, (but I shouldn’t be surprised by) is the color of the food, especially the milk! I am using some raw cow’s milk from a friend’s dairy to make the sauce.

I look into the jar and see a pond of pale silver-yellow milk with corn-gold butter fat floating on the top - cast like Spring pollen, or fallen cherry blossom petals after a light rain. The pasta, too, is brilliant, almost orange; due to the color of pasture egg yolks different than “production house” eggs.

There are many differences in food produced in your backyard, so to speak. Some subtle, some not. Food is more than calories to fuel a body, it is also the substance that feeds the mind and spirit. My dinner today started with an art show, the colors of life: Cream White Aztec Gold Painted by the Hand of Jasper Johns Lasagne. Thank you Chris, Wayne and Jon for the palette….

Joyful dining!