Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Food Movement is Coming North, They Say. Thursday, June 29, 2006

If I had taken Alan, the owner of Nature’s Larder, to heart, then I would have surely missed Hailey who manages the “cheese shop” in Rosemount.

But let me not get ahead of myself, forasmuch as I wish to begin with the first class lunch I had with my charming and most captivating husband at La Bonne Baguette, a modest, plainly decorated café in the business of selling accessible cuisine. By that I mean, the menu offered a selection of “filled baguette with soup” and that’s exactly what you got. A substantial bowl of delicious homemade vegetable soup with a baguette crafted stiff enough to hold a most mouth watering salmon, joined by capers and red onions. It was simple and to the point; nothing prissy or fussy about it. It wasn’t a nouvelle baguette, nor was it a confused baguette that thought it came from Madrid and appeared to you on a Tapas plate. Likewise, it wasn’t a mass produced one who thought its family name was Tesco (the equivalent to Kroger), a baguette who had tragically misplaced its originality, had severed all ties to its soul, a baguette who compromised its point of origin and settled itself onto the plate, soggy and limp, unfit to partner even the most unpalatable tomato, much less the integrity of a succulent North Sea Salmon. In a world that sports the likes of lifeless bread and thinks nothing of it, it was such a pleasure to come across a confident, self assured and unpretentious sandwich. Once we’d ordered the “still” water (spring, not mineral), the total bill including our two entrees of soup and filled baguette, came to around 12 pounds ten ($22.00), a bit pricy for lunch, but we’d make up the difference dining in a night or two.

The subject of conversation was lively. We continued to exchange our observations of the books we’re reading at the moment, Paul, the Colin Wilson autobiography and me, my beloved Virginia, Granite and Rainbow, The Hidden Life of V.Woolf., about Jung and the food movement in Britain.

From all accounts, newspapers, television, and word of mouth, there is quite a flourishing population of those who are resisting the convenience of shopping at the “Huber-Markets” in exchange for the satisfaction of actually knowing where their food comes from, even though the cost be higher and the acquisition of it harder to reach, the movement is growing. In response to this demand, there are specialty shops emerging like I. J. Mellis Chessemonger at 201 Rosemount Place. According to Hailey (manager of I.J. Mellis – Aberdeen), the owner combs Scotland from the Highlands to the Low, from the East to the West and the islands all around, including Wales and Ireland to bring to his customers a cheese of value and personal history. “Every cheese has a story,” boasts Hailey as she takes me on a tour of the impressive number of varieties before me in a space no larger than a postage stamp. “Like this cheese, for example”, she points to a citadel of wedges behind the counter. “This cheese is cultivated by a woman in the Orkneys who has 14 cows and she’s always had only 14 cows. We buy what she has and then age it in our warehouse.” Not just cheeses make their home in this cozy little nook either, but vinegars and chutneys and fresh quince paste, tagged with paper and string and handwritten descriptions.

I like to think that someday we will revolt as a species and tear down the walls of the oppressive corporations that now even dominate what we put in our mouths and demand a new relationship be tilled with the farmer and that we relax our artificial need for materialism in exchange for a dinner brought to table, hand to hand, from the farmer to the mother who picks then prepares the carrots for the evening meal, but then again, Paul and I still read to each other at night. He recites poetry and I bring only what is fresh and made by my hand to the table, even though I recognize the difficulty of this in our modern world and the romanticism of such a notion, still if Jamie Oliver can rail against the inferiority of school lunches in Great Britain and with a clean swipe change what the children are eating, then I believe that one by one, the farmer and the mother can rescue the table from the sterile conditions of the superstores whose shelves are gluttonous with over-processed, sluggish and under nourished offerings.

I must meet a farmer…this is my next mission…meanwhile, I took my first driving lesson yesterday and the City of Aberdeen is still standing, so I think that must mean success. I’d never thought about how unconsciously one drives after so many years of the same roads and familiar traffic laws. I never knew I “coasted” so in a standard. I never knew I “rode the clutch” so, or “bore down on the gears” and I altogether had NO IDEA that I didn’t know anything about steering. Humph. I thought I knew how to steer, and of course I do in the wide open spaces of the States, but not on streets designed for Hobbits and Fairie Folk – this requires a more tempered and precise kind of wheel control. (We wouldn’t want to run over the wee things). It’s a land of the creep and peepers. That’s an expression to describe the approach to a main road from what I call practically a foot path, is to creep up to the road and peep and creep and peep until you’re finally in the flow of traffic. Creep and Peep. I don’t know. I’m such a jittery person, I might decide to take the road by bus or bike or Paul…or foot, for that matter.

Anyway…I’m getting tired and you’ve likely had enough, so I’ll tell you about Foyer, the lovely dinner we had last night on Crown Street – I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow.



PS I'm realizing upon review of this entry that I never followed up on Alan and the connect to Hailey, and how it was a day of sychronicity but I will...I will.

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