We’re avid readers of Anthony Bourdain’s books. Two of them have impacted our family somewhat dramatically. The first was Kitchen Confidential. Aside from being just a great read, it was also the third book our then-early-adolescent son read. He read it cover to cover, but it was at the third chapter that he came running to announce that he wanted to be a chef. Why? He pointed to the title of Chapter 3: “Food is Sex”. That did it. A couple culinary degrees under his belt, he’s now in charge of the mignardises in a restaurant in New York.
But the book that continues to inspire me is A Cook’s Tour, and specifically the chapter, “Where Food Comes From“. Read it, and you’ll understand why he says that where our food comes from is not always pretty. But it’s the larger concept behind that chapter that makes me think a lot and sometimes do strange things.
Strange thing #1: I make coffee in a 70-year-old vacuum coffee pot.
This little honey requires that I take 12 minutes every morning to heat the water, grind the beans bought from Cafe Kubal, pour the grinds into the top part of the pot, stir the grinds into the hot water once it’s risen to the top, time it for two minutes and thirty seconds, and remove it from the heat when that time is up. I pour some of the coffee for us and put the rest in an old glass thermos (metal containers make the coffee taste bad). What we get is some of the best-tasting coffee you can make at home. What it gives me is a reassuring ritual with which to start my day and some quiet, meditative time watching the magic of physics as the coffee magically gets sucked back down into the lower chamber.
I like buying from Matt Godard at the cafe because he has a close connection to where coffee beans come from. His latest offering is an Indian Narali bean, roasted dark, that is truly stunning. But it’s the fact that he can email the grower and get that bean behaving the way the grower wants it to behave in the cup that has me feeling somehow connected to the earth on the other side of the world. (More on this bean in a later posting.) Here’s a cup at the cafe:
Strange thing #2: I dry my clothes on the line.
Where do dry clothes come from? Some of us in Eastwood still dry most of our clothes on the line. There’s no shame in that here! In fact, many today might consider it a badge of coolness, an awareness of the grave danger our planet is in, and an attempt to do our part. Call it what you may, hanging clothes on the line is one of my favorite activities. It satisfies my Protestant work ethic while I’m thoroughly enjoying the outdoors. It’s not even hard work, like gardening. It’s just pleasant. Your neighbors say hello to you as they walk by. You might even have a conversation with someone and pick up on some of the latest gossip. Networking at its finest. I save a few bucks in energy costs, I get that righteous feeling that allows me to blog my attempts at minimizing my carbon footprint, and my clothes smell great! What’s not to like?
How about you, my neighbors near and far?
What strange things do you do?
Do you pick your own strawberries? Do you fill jugs from a local spring? Do you buy eggs directly from a local farm that you’ve visited? Maybe you make your own clothes? What do you do that reminds you and/or your kids where things come from?