Thursday, May 10, 2012

in gratitude

shrine at the hell's backbone grill no harm farm--photo by my student nate lebaron
everyone who knows me knows i'm obsessed with kitchens, grocery stores, restaurants, cookbooks, chopped, iron chef, restaurant impossible, etc., etc.

what a thrill to get to spend a little time with blake spalding and jen castle of hell's backbone grill (in boulder, utah) hearing a little more about their work, food, inspirations and more.  i read their book in 2005 when it first came out and there was quite a big stink about it.  i cooked the navajo peach crisp and the chamayo chile pots de creme and their famous biscuits and kept planning trips to boulder in my head that never happened.

i just re-read their book and got inspired all over again, and felt very grateful for the people who produce food and prepare food and recognize that it nourishes us and keeps us alive, but it can also be more than mere sustenance.  that it can lift our bodies and our souls and our minds and make us happier, better people.

i won't repeat too much of what's in their book, but it points out, through it's setting in the microcosm of the tiny community of boulder, what a communal effort the making of food is.  how, really, every community exists for the making of food, and when that process is hidden or bastardized, our communities become sick.

i'm extending the ideas in the book a little further than they actually go, but that's what being in boulder and re-reading this text made me realize.

i was lucky to see the process close-up for a few days and to notice what a huge difference love, care, and attention makes in the way food tastes on the tongue and sits in the belly, and changes the heart.  not only attention to the food as it's being prepared to eat, but attention to the soil it grows in, the animals & insects who give their lives so other animals can eat, the workers who plant, who chop, who wash, who serve and the eaters at table.

i'm grateful i was raised by parents who are deeply connected to food & recognize it's importatnce to  family and community life, and grateful for all the food evangalists in the world helping to instruct and inspire the rest of us to take more care in all things related to that most foundational thing, the thing that keeps us alive, makes us happy and keeps us in tune with body and earth.

also grateful for the food poems (they're much more than just food poems, but the food grounds them) of li-young lee.  he illustrates the kind of attention i'm talking about:

Eating Alone

I've pulled the last of the year's young onions.
The garden is bare now. The ground is cold,
brown and old. What is left of the day flames
in the maples at the corner of my
eye. I turn, a cardinal vanishes.
By the cellar door, I wash the onions,
then drink from the icy metal spigot.

Once, years back, I walked beside my father
among the windfall pears. I can't recall
our words. We may have strolled in silence. But
I still see him bend that way-left hand braced
on knee, creaky-to lift and hold to my
eye a rotten pear. In it, a hornet
spun crazily, glazed in slow, glistening juice.

It was my father I saw this morning
waving to me from the trees. I almost
called to him, until I came close enough
to see the shovel, leaning where I had
left it, in the flickering, deep green shade.

White rice steaming, almost done. Sweet green peas
fried in onions. Shrimp braised in sesame
oil and garlic. And my own loneliness.
What more could I, a young man, want.

Li-Young Lee
legwear:  all day yoga pants

inspiration: people who are attentive, thoughtful, and kind

looking forward: to colbert then sleep

1 comment:

  1. Li-Young Lee often writes about food, no? Love it. Also, now I'm seriously thinking of moving to Boulder. Something radical must be done. I wonder how my life would have been different if I had been raised in a household where food was valued for more than just the calories it provided to keep one alive.