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Taste, Memory: Chapter One - Seeds of an Idea

Taste, Memory: Chapter One - Seeds of an Idea

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In Taste, Memory author David Buchanan explores questions fundamental to the future of food and farming. How can we strike a balance between preserving the past, maintaining valuable agricultural and culinary traditions, and looking ahead to breed new plants? What place does a cantankerous old pear or too-delicate strawberry deserve in our gardens, farms, and markets? To what extent should growers value efficiency and uniformity over matters of taste, ecology, or regional identity?
In Taste, Memory author David Buchanan explores questions fundamental to the future of food and farming. How can we strike a balance between preserving the past, maintaining valuable agricultural and culinary traditions, and looking ahead to breed new plants? What place does a cantankerous old pear or too-delicate strawberry deserve in our gardens, farms, and markets? To what extent should growers value efficiency and uniformity over matters of taste, ecology, or regional identity?

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Published by: Chelsea Green Publishing on Sep 17, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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10/24/2013

 
forgotten foods, lost flavors,and why they matter
david buchanan
 Restoring Diversity to Our Fields, Markets, and Tables
foreword by gary paul nabhan
Taste,
 
y
 
1
One 
seeds of an idea
  A  
ugust 1992. Emerenciana Sandoal greets me with a radiantsmile in her kitchen and asks if she can make me breakfast.
“¿Comer?”
she asks as she mimes eating eggs and tortillas with herngers. “Are you hungry?” her daughter-in-law, Catalina, adds. Ofcourse they know this is a formality. I’m always hungry, and eachof us understands that it wouldn’t be polite for me to say no. I’etried to refuse many times, knowing they hae no money and manymouths to feed, but somehow a plate piled high always winds upin front of my place at the counter. They worry about me, liingin the foothills of Washington State's North Cascade Mountainsforty miles away, without a resident mother or wife to feed me andwatch out for my well-being. Emerenciana warns me to beware ofdeils—something to think about while walking alone through thewoods on dark nights.Behind their home is a large garden ringed with nodding sun-owers where they grow plants like leuce and tomatoes, herbs,summer squash, corn, beans, and potatoes. I stop by wheneer pos-sible to help and to learn from their experience. Eerything aboutfood production is new to me. Looking back while writing thisnearly twenty years later, I recall their two sheep and the re pit
 
Taste,
memory
2
Emerenciana’s son Miguel used to cook the ram when it began toharass the children; their machete-built chicken coop, made fromsalaged dimensional lumber but resembling something straightfrom the highlands of Oaxaca; and the perch we caught together inthe alkaline lakes a few miles from their home in Okanogan, Wash-ington. I think of the corn and bean seeds they and their friendscarried with them from Mexico, and the care they took to maintainfood traditions while working long hours in nearby orchards andpacking houses. These are some of my earliest gardening memories.The night before, the Sandoals set out a cot on the screenedporch for me while eeryone else slept whereer they found space inthe two-bedroom house. Preschooler Leticia usually curls up on thecouch next to her grandmother, whereas Adan and his brother Mar-cus share a bedroom with their parents. In the morning the blindsare pulled and it’s hot inside, noisy and crowded as the womenprepare breakfast and the three children play with their father.Marcus, the oldest at six and deaf from birth, angles for my aention by hanging on to my shirt and signing frantically. We eat breakfasttogether without hurry. Later Miguel throws a bag in his Isuzu truckand dries away to the orchards, dropping Catalina o at a pack-ing shed on the way. Adan and Marcus catch a bus to school, whileEmerenciana stays home to make tortillas and watch oer Leticia.I grab a straw hat and head for my truck, parked in the shade ofa large willow tree. It’s a 1970 Chey half-ton pickup nearly the sizeof my house, a guilty pleasure for a young guy trying to lie lightlyo the grid. Although I’d purchased it for $600 to use as a farmtruck, gradually it came to replace my less-reliable car. A friendof mine recently tore its door o while backing up at high speedoer uneen ground, catching it on a stump as he leaned out to seewhere he was going with his good eye, but he xed it by boltingin another door from the salage yard that sort of t and nearlymatched. With a new engine dropped in by a local mechanic for$1,400, this truck—nearly as old as I am—roars along good as new.My boots mirror the truck in spirit. They’re coered in leatherpatches stitched artlessly by a local “cobbler”—mismatched suede,cowhide, whateer scraps he had lying around. If at rst it seemedthat he’d ruined my faorite thrift-store boots, soon it became clear

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