When I was 18 my mother, my five-year-old sister, and I flew to the pacific northwest for a vacation. We landed in Seattle, went to Pike’s market, did some sightseeing, drove up to Vancouver which we explored for a day or two, took the ferry to Victoria Island, visited the beautiful and vast Bouchard gardens, did a day trip on the San Juan islands, tried to spy orca whales, hiked to the top of Hurricane Ridge (where we did spy a bear, and my sister had her first ever chance to touch snow), and had a guided and amazingly fascinating tour of Olympic National Park, one of the few temperate rain foresst in the world. It was a great trip.
Oh, and I had just had jaw surgery and couldn’t eat anything remotely solid. I lived off Ensure, ice cream, and dehydrated soups, strained of the chunky bits. My mom felt bad going out to eat when I couldn’t partake, so for the most part she and my sister ate very simply, and mostly out of grocery stores. I joked that our biggest purchase was a gallon of spring water to take with us to the park. It was certainly our heaviest purchase! By the end of the week we had spent $100 on food for three. That’s about $1.50 per meal per person. Back home, looking over the budget, my mom commented, laconically, “This was not a food trip.” I laughed.
Many years later, when my mom took me on her much yearned for trip to China, we discovered that, due to our dearth of Chinese language skills, our lack of guidance in the restaurant department, the general injunction not to eat any fruit or vegetable that hadn’t been cooked or peeled, and the Chinese’s total unfamiliarity with the notion of vegetarianism (veganism in my mom’s case), our three week trip to China was also designated “not a food trip.” (Wow, that was one long sentence.)
In honor of those two trips, I dub this week “not a food week.” It’s been hot, I’ve been super busy, and most importantly I never made it to the store after returning from New Hampshire. I’ve been living off the generous produce gifts from my friend Katrina’s mom’s garden. Katrina and Dani sent me home with a suitcase packed to the gills, with the zucchinis and cucumbers and herbs from Dani’s garden, baby jars of currant jam that Katrina and I made from Dani’s two currant bushes, the New Hampshire organic peanut butter and sun butter Katrina gifted me with, goodies from the King Arthur baker’s store, and my pile of purchases from the Hanover co-op (including lara bars, frontera salsa, black mission figs, and georgia peaches, all things I’ve yet to find in Montreal).
So this week I’ve not cooked much but I’ve enjoyed countless peaches and cucumbers eaten out of hand. I’ve been exploring strange sun butter combinations, on toasted tortillas with cucumber slices or sliced nectarines. I’ve been expanding on my set list of zucchini recipes. Breakfast today was sauteed zucchini tossed with penne pasta and pesto. For dinner, desperate for more protein, I sauteed up some zucchini and onion, then added 1/2 cup of canned roman beans, a handful of chopped parsley (also from the garden), and a few spoons of Frontera Grill green salsa. I was worried the combination was going to be odd and unappetizing, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t the most exciting dinner in the world, but fresh parsley is always tasty, and it was good to have beans again.
Tomorrow I plan to go shopping, which is good since I’ve finished off the last of the fruit and cucumbers. Still, I’m impressed at how long the parsley and basil have lasted in the fridge, completely unblemished, and the zucchini and cucumbers I just left on the kitchen table, following Dani’s lead. Fresh picked produce is world’s apart from the week (or more) old produce shipped from California that you find at the grocery store. I’m going to check out the new organic farmer’s market in Outrement tomorrow, but still, I’m sad that Dani’s vegetables are all gone. If any gardeners in Montreal are reading this blog, and have more zucchini or tomatoes or cuks than you know what to do with, just give me a holler and I’ll come relieve you of your burden!