Wild almonds. Lemon trees. Waist-high rosemary hedges. Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas, um, make that Brooklyn, anymore.
When I travel, I make an effort to eat as much locally raised food as possible. This is not a hardship: it’s a pleasure. Nothing connects me quite as directly to the place I am visiting as celebrating the food produced by local harvests and cooks.
I’ve been in Israel for two weeks. It’s been a working trip, but with plenty of time for fun and food. Okay, so actually the working part was just a splendid way to pay for a trip to visit the long distance boyfriend.
And yeah, I’m feeling guilty about the heavy carbon footprint this locavore is inflicting on the planet because of all the travel lately. But not guilty enough to skip visiting someone I love. I felt the same way when I flew to California for my grandmother’s 99th birthday.
She passed away three weeks later, just before I went on this trip, and I’m really, really glad I got to see her that last time.
Grandma Nea died on the night of August 4th. A couple of days later I celebrated my birthday with a local foods feast and friends in the garden.
Being a 21st Century human can be complicated sometimes.
He also brought walnuts and almonds that he had harvested from nearby trees, and joked about inviting us to pick his prickly pears (they are ripening all over the hillsides here).
While I’ve been here, I’ve continued to write about food preservation, and that has been a challenge. A canning funnel, a jar lifter, some mason jars with 2-piece canning lids - stuff I could find in many hardware stores and definitely kitchen ware stores back home is surprisingly hard to find here.
Or maybe not so surprising. This may be a desert, but the climate is kind to agriculture. When good tomatoes are available year-round, why should people care about canning tomatoes at home?
Of course, the water story is not so simple. The Dead Sea is shrinking rapidly because the water that used to pour into it is being diverted for agriculture. Water in this part of the world seems to be both rare and, when it is present, an especially strong force. More special for its scarcity, I suppose.
Today was the last teaching day of this month for me and Ricky, and tomorrow we’re heading out on a camping holiday. We’ll start our journey north by visiting an organic farm. I have many questions about the sustainable food movement here, and look forward to meeting some people who are actively involved (and, hopefully, getting to see and taste some of their food).
I’ll be doing what my friend Liz calls a “digital detox” for at least the first few days of vacation - no internet, no email, no phone - so don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me for a little while.
If you’re in the midst of the late summer food preservation frenzy, please check out the latest articles and recipes I’ve got up on my food preservation site.