Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On food, but really, on relationships.

As a good North American I was always appalled at the idea that folks actually go and buy groceries every day. Talk about a waste of time.

Now having lived here for two years, and we are on the third, I am finding that there is some merit to the system. Don't get me wrong, I don't love going shopping in the normal course of things, but buying groceries here is TOTALLY different than the normal NA experience.

There is a relationship that can occur when buying food. Let me illustrate. Today I had a stupendously delicious lunch:

Fresh baguette (from my favourite baker where I can bring Chuck in with me, we chatted about dogs today)
Tomatoes (from the same baker, grown here in our town by another customer)
with a touch of Olive oil, (from a friend's father's farm)

I also had scrambled eggs (from my favourite (weekly) market lady who lives in the next town and whose chickens eat *shock* vegetables!!! From her GARDEN! and whose daughter I taught English too last year...she gave me some eggs that had been reserved for another customer, I was a little late at 9:10 am...I reserved eggs for next week, and swiss chard and bay leaves...they come on a branch, you know, chopped off the tree!)
with oyster mushrooms (from a town just down the coast)

I also had fresh ripe splitting open figs (from the village)
with the very best Iberic Ham, from my favourite lady in the local daily market (we talked about my vegetarian kids)
and a nice strong cheese, almost a Parmesan, made here in Catalonia, (from the corner store that sells the most GOURMET stuff....and who has a lovely woman working there who has WAY too many deliveries to put away today)

I also had tea, organic Earl Grey (from a store in BCN, owned by a delightful coffee connoisseur from whom I have been buying the man's coffee for a while; who, I recently discovered, also sells the most astounding variety of teas, and seems quite knowledgeable. We had a lovely conversation about the different types of teas, and chai, and which teas are sweet and fruity, etc....He also once walked me down the street to his local restaurant when I went begging into his store asking to know where to get really good CATALAN food to celebrate that the Dr's had figured out the cause of Eldest's stomach ache.) -Lord, I love a run-on sentence. The tea is astonishingly good, the entire kitchen smells meltingly delicious when I make it. A high point to my day.

In my tea I had normal milk...I haven't found a better source,
and regular old sugar.... I would love to use the local honey that is made in our village more, but to be completely tastes like cough medicine. Blech. It is testing my willingness to eat locally. I may try and source another type of local honey...especially as the local honey maker just died.


after all that, I guess what I am trying to say in this long run-on way, is that buying food here is not only about buying food, and it has very little in common with battling through Loblaws, or Price Choppper, there is also a very real relationship that emerges with the food and the shopping.

When I ate my delicious lunch, it was not only delicious, but it was also scented by the smiles and conversations of the people who grew it, and who sold it to me.

That I like.


Anonymous said...

Doing the 100 mile diet, aren't you? :)

mmichele said...

Oh I am so jealous. And I bet you walked, too.

Hula Girl at Heart said...

I understand. One of my favorite conservations each year is when my neighbor, the pastor, brings by a jar of honey from his hives.

Wonderful post.

oreneta said...

LP, kinda, but the tea was WAY outside the hundred mile barrier...WAY! Then again, it's not exactly heavy so from a fuel perspective...I prevaricate.

Mmichele, I did...though seems the bursitis in my hip is starting to act up again...not to happy about that.

Hula, it is magic to eat something made and preserved by someone you know.....a communal act...

Anonymous said...

I can see you walking to town with a homemade basket, smelling the flowers and admiring the scenery and people.

I also see you wanting to take the baguette and whomp the living daylight outta the post office workers, too! hahaha

Anonymous said...

It's Vicky...delurking here. I've read your blog with much interest since last spring. What a wonderful summer you had. We lived in So. Am. and raised our children there...which soo enrichens the total experience. But to the point, the grocery shopping! You are so right and I'm so glad that you are enjoying it. Americans just don't understand this experience. My fruit and veg lady and husband were italians and insisted on speaking italian and insisted that I learn it, too. So, I had to buy those items 'in italian'. It was fun and definitely enriching. Love your blog. Vicky

Anonymous said...

A wonderful post and the richness of the food is enhanced by the rich relationships surrounding it. We are fortunate to be part of much of what we eat as well and with my family, and that is satisfying too.