So You Want to Eat Local, Buy the Book

May 15, 2012 at 7:44 am

Everlasting Meal pb cover

I told you April was the time to join me as a local family. Then, I spent most of the rest of the month arguing just why you should be a local family. Advice. There was some, like get a CSA.   Mostly, it was talk of the pleasures of a year in the eat local life.  I figure, commit to eating local, and the rest will follow.  And buy the book.

There are a lot of great books out there to help you with your quest to be a local family.  (Believe me, this Local Family has about all of them.)  We did not have the one my Mother was reading a few weeks ago on her Kindle.  And when she started telling us about it–put an egg on it; make a crust; yesterday’s pasta is today’s pancake; pickle it–it sounded not like an episode of Portlandia, but like all the Local Family posts I had been meaning to write.   After all, we say in this Local Family, about Mom, she can take any batch of leftovers, fry and egg, and call it dinner. She was saying it too. What was such book, filled with wisdom.  An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adler, my Mother told us.  Soon we had our own copy.

Not since I read Mama Meichulim had I read a book more apt for the locavore life.  Unlike the growing library of eat local tomes, Ms. Adler’s book contains not one picture of rolling farm fields or happy content animals.  There are no arrays of farmer’s markets produce; no shots of grizzled farmers; not one close-up of dirty fingernails.  There are, hard to believe in this day, no pictures at all.  There are few recipes either, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  Adler makes the case for eating local without once ever going there.  At best, I could find this passage:

By the end of the week you will have eaten vegetables a dozen ways a dozen times, having began with good raw materials only once. You will also have a number of satisfying conversations. You have eaten a raw bite of kale stem and wondered whether next time it should be pickled. You will have tasted a particular soft, cold vinegary beet, and realized you wanted to make beet soup again and serve it cold. You will have been silently practicing that ancient conversation in which cooks and their materials used to converse, feeling out unfamiliar conjunctions, brushing up.

If that does not describe a CSA subscriber or farmer’s market devotee, it will surely drive you to be one.

An Everlasting Meal will drive you to cook and eat and want to be a locavore to have those dozen vegetables to boil and roast and make into good salads. Ms. Adler only gives you the occasional recipe for making your local food. She teaches that it is not recipes, however, that make for good eating. It is an understanding of the meal. That a wedge of good cheese, which you can have from your farmer’s market, will provide as good a dinner as anything, especially if you open up a good bottle, beer wine or cider (which I’m not sure she mentioned). That there should be bread and ample supplies of rice or polenta or some other base, perhaps even home cooked sauerkraut. It is how to approach things.  Mostly that the best approaches are usually the simplest and the ones we might not even think about any more. Boil your meat and vegetables is the first thing she teaches. I’ll come back to the much good advice inside Everlasting Meal in subsequent posts. I’m telling you today, you’ve committed to being a local family. Buy the book.