This, That, and the Other

A Little of This, A Bit of That, and The Other: Hickory Nuts is the original title of this, my weekly column. I am getting a little tired of having to thank David for his inspiration once again, but David, once again, thank you.

This

As a self-proclaimed wordsmith, I found a term which I bequeath the “Word of the Year” award. The word is one I have never come across before—but both its spelling and meaning are soothing. Susurrus, pronounced “soo-sur-uhs” is defined as a soft, murmuring sound.

A favourite blogger of mine is a Canadian living the American dream. His blog, Live and Learn is one where I find the most charming quotes and astute observations. It is where I discovered my new favourite word, its definition, and subsequent context. Described as one of the most beautiful words in the English language, it “resembles the rustling symphony of the fallen leaves moving across pavement or the whispers created by the branches of the trees on a windy autumn day.” The vivid picture painted by such a description is one that I would like to be water coloured into.

The definition goes on to say that “uttering susurrus also stimulates the acoustics of nature’s effect” and is “one of those rare words where it’s aesthetic, sound, and feel coincide beautifully.”

That

I was watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Channel program “15 Minute Meals” early this morning, and while I really like the chef, I have a bone or two to pick with him. The secret to his 15 Minutes Meals is all in the preparation. He has all his utensils out, the food processor at the ready, and the water boiling for his pasta or potatoes or whatever culinary delight he is preparing that needs some boiling. This is cheating. Everyone knows that to get a decent boil going for a pan of water takes some time—yet this is not part of his 15 minutes. Nor is the time that it takes to set up the meal—getting everything out and half-prepping it (washed greens, unwrapped cheeses, and unscrewed lids).

I am not particularly fond of spending time in the kitchen on a daily basis. On occasion I like to cook, but the daily grind is just not something I look forward to. So when I am promised a 15 Minute Meal, I want to only spend 15 minutes. Any more than that, and I feel cheated. Seriously, Jamie’s meals would take most of us at least 40 minutes—and that is still not too long to spend on fixing a meal if we are told the reality of the situation. But to advertise something as 15 minutes and it to turn out to be 40 is not a good thing (I asked Martha and she said I could use her tagline).

So, Jamie, while I still love your show—quit trying to pull the wool over my eyes.

The Other: Hickory Nuts

I am pleased as punch. Now, how pleased that really is, is a complete mystery to me—but I am using this phrase to tell you how happy a mystery benefactor has made me. Someone, who will remain unnamed at this point (mainly because I do not know their name), left me a bag of hickory nuts after reading my columns nostaligizing the lovely nuts.Their note read “I enjoy your columns, particularly the one on hickory nuts” or something to that effect (the note has been lost in the plethora of papers that surround my desk—but I did not misplace the little nuggets of goodness).

So, to that person I have two things to say: 1. Who are you? 2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your writing looks somewhat familiar, but I could just be fooling myself into thinking that I recognize it. I must tell you that I am enjoying the hickory nuts immensely.

In the old days, I used a hammer on my parent’s brick outdoor fireplace to break into the little fellows, and capture their nutty goodness (some of which I had to forego as we were tasked with getting the meat of the nuts for a cake my mom would make). Instead of getting the hammer out, I found my nutcracker (until this point only used at Christmas) and a little utensil that comes with it to dig the tiny pieces from the crevices of the shell. Now, this is no easy task, but once a morsel is successfully unattached the reward is a gustatory delight. You may think I am overstating it, but the hickory nuts have brought back wonderful childhood memories. They taste of the woods, autumn, and times past. Again, I say thank you.

Published in: on November 12, 2014 at 12:38 pm  Comments (21)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

To market, to market…………

This is an edited version of  my weekly newspaper column–again it is locally based–but has some food for thought on a wider basis too:

“Food has the ability to bring people together …” – The Stop

Sweet potatoes, garlic and herb bread, treats for my cat, natural bug repellent, grapefruit and mint soap, blackberry jam, a beautiful bunch of flowers for $5, asparagus, Lebanese garlic spread, some meatwiches (yes I made this up but I do not know what else to call them—they consisted of a lovely meat mixture ensconced in bread), and some radish sprouts. Those are the treasures I gleaned from Saturday’s Farmers Market  in our fair town of Kingsville.

I love the idea of a Farmers Market. But more than the idea, I love going to farmers markets. I am so happy that we have one in the heart of town from now until October. The offerings thus far are abundant, and I am sure it is going to grow. I did not hit all of the stands that were set up, more than a dozen on its first venture out of the gate—but the ones I did hit gave me the feeling (and products) I wanted from the market. A feeling of a community coming together to offer not only quality goods but camaraderie—a sense of “we are all in this together”.

The day dawned wet and cool (some might say cold), the grass was wet, but the vendors were there with their game faces on. Every vendor I stopped to talk to was beyond friendly, and those who had products which needed a bit of explanation provided it not in a “I want to sell it to you no matter what” kind of way, but in a lovely conversational way that made me want to buy and not back away.

Farmers Markets have been around for almost 10,000 years according to a web site called coincidentally enough Farmers Markets. Apparently they originated in Turkey and the Middle East and were born from the fact that farm families found they were producing more than they needed for survival so they offered their wares in a farmers market as a way to sell their excess—meeting the needs of local villagers and finding another source of income.

Farmers Markets, so says the article are a “wholly traditional way of selling agricultural and home manufactured products” and were once “integral to society and a part of everyday life” but saw a decline due to “urbanism and intensive farming….the advent of supermarkets and hypermarkets….” and the fact that people could buy pre-packaged food without worrying about seasonality. The article says that people “lost interest in food in general.”

That interest has been reignited—people are again interested in buying their food a little closer to the source, and what better way to do it than by visiting local Farmers Markets? I give the Food Channel some of the kudos for renewing our interest in fresh locally grown produce and to Jamie Oliver, English chef extraordinaire in particular.

According to Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis in “The Stop”, a book about how good food transformed a community (in Toronto) and inspired a movement: “food has the ability to bring people together”. Attending the weekly Farmers Market is not only satisfying in what you come away with to nourish your body; it nourishes the soul of our community. It brings us together as one, and fosters kinship, unity and co-operative spirit, from the group that has come together under the umbrella of the Kingsville Farmers Market to those of us who visit.

Thank you to those who had the foresight and gumption to organize this market. I, for one, will be a regular visitor—not just for the fresh food and imaginative products, but for that unseen yet precious commodity: community.