By Anne Maxfield
This past week and especially the weekend were sad for the Accidental Locavore. The news was something I'd been hoping — desperately hoping – not to hear for almost six months. When I finally got in touch with my farmer, Paul, about continuing our arrangement for my weekly farm box, he said he wasn't farming anymore. The hurricane and subsequent storms from last August had wiped him out. And a farm that had been feeding people for generations is no more.
They say that cooking is cathartic, writing, too, and that things happen for a reason. Because there were some cans of good tuna in oil out on the counter, this morning I started to prep the ingredients to be cooked for a salad Niçoise: eggs (from my friend Bill), potatoes and haricots verts. As it turned out there were about eight potatoes that had been from one of last summer's final boxes from Paul’s farm. A few wrinkled red new potatoes ansaldd some old-looking purple ones. Normally I might have tossed them, but
they just looked a little aged and they were from the farm, the last I'll ever have, so I took care to boil them
With the salad I'll made a dressing in the traditional French way, using two tiny shallots I found in the bottom of the drawer with the potatoes, a last gift from the farm.
Food is fleeting, like music or theater. A taste, a sight, a smell, a memory
of what was. You never realize how much of your life is entwined with something like the farm, until it's gone. Although running down the road for a last-minute tomato or ear of corn has been a thing of the past for a few years now, the Friday night farm box pick-up, with the delicious surprises inside, was the inspiration for my site.
It gave me a clearer understanding of what brings me pleasure and has made me not only a better writer, but a much more adventurous cook. The farmer taught me an immense amount, not only what to look for in a zucchini, but he also literally offered me tastes of things I've never had before, like kohlrabi and elderberries. I've grown accustomed to the ease of preparing food that comes from just down the road, with a taste that cannot be duplicated by big agribusiness, no matter how “organic” they are.
And so, with these last potatoes, this shallot, I salute this farm. It will be sorely missed.