Local Mess

March 30, 2009 at 11:08 am

Rob Gardner

To eat local, it goes, you have to cook.  It also goes, not as often said, that to eat local, you also have to clean.   On Sunday, we did something we pretty much never do on Sundays, we cooked two complete meals.  And believe you-me, two meals is something like five messes.   Dealing with the messes is the hardest part of eating local (I think).

It starts, of course, with the raw materials.  As I am so wont to say, local ingredients come completely unprepared.  So, your local cleaning starts with the peelings and other scraps.  From our meals yesterday, that included a cabbage heart, lemon peels, rocket stems, and mushroom trimmings, and we did not make anything scrap heavy like potatoes or eggs.  Our compost pile builds fast.

We do not go the full-on TV Foodnetwork a bowl for everything mis-en-place, but I’d say, again, the nature of cooking from scratch, from local ingredients, lends one to more bowls, pans and sheets than a Stouffer’s micro-meal.  Lunch included one large sheet pan that held marinating chicken, plus a bowl where I had made the marinade, a roasting pan and cooling rack as a make-shift broiling unit; a cast iron frying pan for the cabbage.  Dinner required a pot for pasta and large skillet for the sauce.  There were knives and cutting boards and cheese graters and such used as well.  All that needed to be cleaned.

Serving meals, I make it more difficult than my wife.  Dinner was her, and she dished up the pasta straight from the bowl.  I’m a platter guy.  I had the fried cabbage in one, but got thrifty when I combined the broiled chicken and rocket in another.  Of course dinner featured a green salad and that required our large wooden salad bowl as well as four smaller wooden salad plates. 

Cake, the pleasure of eating at home was emphasized with leftover cake that we had from our baker friend Joan.  Cake meant four more plates and another set of forks.  Then, since we were also at home, Mom and Dad could enjoy a little tipple of Kentucky bourbon.  More glasses.

I am not lying.  The hardest thing about eating local, more than the finding food, more than the peeling beets, more than the never-ending compost pile, the hardest thing is the mess.