In signing up for the Coast to Coast, we made the commitment to one another to try to eat healthier in preparation. I am terribly sweet addicted and eat far too few vegetables, so I felt compelled this year to take up the challenge of trying to eat in season and force ourselves to experiment with different vegetables. Since the organic farm share wilts quickly, we need to begin immediately preparing our menus and devising ways to utilize our produce before it rots. The whole experience thus far feels like some perverse reality show: So You Think You Can Be America’s Next Top Vegetarian Chef. It’s us against the vegetables.
We recently received our first CSA box filled with strawberries, rhubarb, rocket, Japanese radishes, bok choi, and arugula. In the Northwest I realized what real fruits and vegetables were supposed to taste like when we farmed our own plot in a community garden. One of the hardest things about living in NYC is that nothing, not even my CSA strawberries can replicate the orgiastic taste of a berry consumed moments after plucking; there is a noticeable difference in the quality of the food within an hour of harvest.
As stated in previous posts, I come from a long proud line of women who are Masters in the Art of takeout; I hate everything about being in the kitchen. I have tremendous respect for those who cook, and am fortunate to have a husband who is willing to prepare all of our meals, but everything about cooking annoys me. I hate the arranging of ingredients and the measuring and the waiting and the timing and the mess. Cooking is nothing more than math and Chemistry, two of my least favorite subjects. Here’s my secret, though: I actually can cook and on that rare lunar eclipse of an evening when I do make dinner, the meal is usually pretty decent.
So tonight, in honor of our CSA, I made strawberry rhubarb pie. It was my first time making pie, so it’s not really award worthy, but it’s edible and perhaps delicious. My feeling is that we will get to perfect the recipe over the next few weeks since our farm share will likely include more strawberries and rhubarb. The only problem that I can’t seem to work through is that even if I suffer through the act of creating a meal, once the process is complete, I have absolutely no interest in consuming what I have created. The thought of eating the food that I have prepared makes me sick. I’m sure that Michael Pollan would blame the industrialized food system that distances us from the source of our meals, but as others, far more articulate then myself have pointed out, there is a tacit trend in food studies to blame women for the industrialization of the food system in the first place, because they wanted a life outside of the home and an easier means of preparing dinner. My kitchen anger and subsequent rejection of the process of cooking is more of a metaphorical metastasizing of the oppression my grandmother felt when she learned to cook. Almost a hundred years later, I am rolling dough on the exact kitchen table where she prepared meals. Our lives are so very different, but perhaps the one thing I carry forward with me is her desire to be anywhere but the kitchen.
So I am embarrassed to admit this, but my husband ate the pie and I ate a Twinkie and somewhere in this messed-up scenario, someone watching us from the apartment across the road would call it progress.