I Cheat

February 3, 2009 at 8:40 am

Rob Gardner

So, I picked up a pound of Illinois grown lettuce last week at Cassie’s Anniversary Gala.  I later got a head of Illinois lettuce at Robin’s Winter Market in Oak Park.  I’m a cheater.  Dinners last week included skate one night and calamari the next.  We had risotto two nights in a row.  Would it matter that amongst the many bananas purchased, some came from Green Grocer?

I’m a cheater.  I draw my boundary of local food quite wide, although when someone last week heard Big 10 and asked, does that include Happy Valley, I said no.  I’m a cheater with some standards.  Listen, I’ve never shirked from cheating.  Do you know how miserable I made my family on Saturday because of the long delay in getting coffee in my veins.  My lipid of choice could be anything local from Nueske bacon drippings to suet rendered from my cow share to good old Wisconsin butter, but I cook almost always with olive oil.  Jim the Vinegar guy makes me a special bottle of home made, local vinegar, but I prefer making vinaigrette’s with lemons.  If cheating sounds too harsh, I guess you can say, I aint no purest.

Skate, calamari, but I drew the line at a bunch of boxed chicken stock my wife came home with from Costco yesterday.  Organic and free range she defended herself.  I countered with the necks and backs we had in the freezer from various chicken dishes.  She claimed we had no where close enough for what she needed for stock.  We, being the happy couple we are, compromised, if I would go out and buy her a hen from the live chicken place, she would return the boxed stock to Costco.  Would I cheat for convenience.

If I did not want to cheat for convenience this time, it’s not because I do not think it is a good reason to do it.  The fact that my wife just loves skate/had to have it when we found some really fresh skate at the fish store next to Caffe Italia (Mercado del Pesce); the fact that she learned this really cool calamari dish at Mado and loves to make it; the  health benefits of olive oil, the fresh flavor of lemons, the monotony of winter apples; hey they’re all fantastic reasons to cheat.  Because, I believe the more we cheat, the more we can eat local.

Cheat away?  Would there get to be a point where there is no point?  I think not.  I firmly believe that if we free ourselves from our restrictions, we can and will focus on what we can do.  I can brag every morning about the local sugar we just got (Costco), the beet soup made last week, the stores of home-canned tomatoes.  Would not you rather hear about how I cheat?