Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Don't Trust Your Eyes

I trying to buy local and seasonal. I’m not Barbara Kingsolver dedicated to it, but it’s one of the many considerations that I flip through while shopping. Among the reasons for buying local are the usual suspects: money in the community, small production good, large production bad, pinpointing where your stuff is born, smaller distance for food to travel. But mostly it just comes down to taste. Strawberries in June from nearby taste so much better than strawberries in January from California or Chile. Unless you are in California or Chile.

Seattle has a staggering variety of local producers- wine, beer, soda, liquor. Vegetables, meat, eggs, fruit, milk, mushrooms, cheese, seafood, coffee, bread. Whaddya want? In the summer it’s a smorgasbord-orgasbord. January… not so much. Sure, I can get Olympia oysters, delicate briney bursts of slippery ocean. But I really really really want, like promise my firstborn to the witch next door with the great garden crave… is fruit. I whimpered when I saw raspberries in the produce section. And I’m not talking about a soft little private moment, but a full-out throat-thrumming whine. MMMMMMMmmmmmmmm. It was out there before I could stop it. I had a discussion that went like this:

Eyes: Oooooohhhh!!! RRRRrrraspberrrrriessssss…. They are so GORgeous, buy them buy them buy them.
Brain: Puhleese, it’s January, those berries are from Peru - there is no possible way those are close to being satisfactory. Do I need to explain how cold impacts the conversion of sugars to starches again? Or how varieties of produce are bred for their looks and transportability rather than flavor? Or that the berries were probably picked days ago and ….
Eyes: No, no, Brain, really, I remember your last riveting lecture. But these are different, look - they’re perfectly ripe, I ‘m sure, and they’ll be delicious buy them buy them buy them.
Brain: Let’s smell them first. Nose, what do you detect?
Nose: Hmmmm… plastic, rubber from the band holding the jewel case closed…
Eyes: That’s what they look like! Jewels, precious edible heavenly ruby-red jewels, buy them buy them buy them…
Brain: Eyes, calm down, you’re interrupting.
Nose: Hmmm… I AM getting a bit of a cold, raspberries are delicate, perhaps I just can’t smell them.
Eyes: Yeah, we’re getting a cold, I’ve been itchy, I’m sure they’ll taste like August, precious edible red August, we should get them because we need raspberries to keep away this cold.
Brain: I don’t think we’re getting a cold, I think those berries are from 2,000 miles away and we’ll get them home and eat the first one and be utterly disappointed.
Eyes: No, no, you’re wrong. They’ll sustain us in these dark days, they’ll be really good, really. I know it.
Brain: We’re passing them.
Eyes: NOOOOOOOOoOOoooooo…. It’s not fair, it’s not fair, I want them I want them please please.
Brain: Use your indoor voice and stop talking to me like I’m an idiot.
Eyes: It’s not fair.
Brain: No, no it’s not. But that’s the way it is.
Eyes: Stop quoting movie lines to me.
Brain: I’m just trying to cheer you up. Ohh! Look at the potatoes.
Eyes: They’re brown. My whole world is one big brown room.
Brain: I thought we weren’t quoting movie lines to each other.
Eyes: BeetleJuice trumps Labyrinth. Can we please just go look at the flowers and pretend we live someplace tropical?
Nose: I’d like to go back to the deli section and smell that fried chicken again.
Brain: No, we’re on a diet, no fried chicken.
Nose: I just want to smell, I didn’t say buy.
Brain: Smelling is the same as buying. We’re hopeless at denying fried chicken, so we’re staying over here.
Nose: We’re looking at flowers.
Brain: Flowers don’t smell like fried chicken, and if they did, we’d eat those, too.

FYI- I came home with Raspberries. AND fried chicken.
I’m so weak. The berries weren’t as tasteless as I’d expected, but they went better on a cashew nut butter & twig bread sandwich, with a little twirl of honey.
Summer is a long way gone.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Kimberly said...

For us, it's strawberries, which happen to be in season down on the gulf coast of Florida and Texas. Like you, I test with my eyes and nose. Even my three year old can tell you, if they do not look good or smell like strawberries, we check again next time (Chilean Grapes anyone?).
What's a girl to do? With all this snow and cold, strawberries, albeit from Florida, let me know that Spring will be here eventually. One final thought, as a parent, strawberries, in season or not, trump other snack options like say Doritos.

February 4, 2009 at 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Joy Manning said...

Funny ... but I know exactly how you feel. So were the berries a disappointment or not? My money is on yes.

February 4, 2009 at 11:40 AM  

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