Sunday, January 18, 2009

Some thoughts while lazing around in a B&B

One of the consolations of my profession is that while I don't make much money, every now and then "working" involves traveling to some pleasant spot and writing about it. Which is why I am in Geyserville for the night with Isabel. After exhausting the attractions of downtown Geyserville, we have retired to our B&B where we are lying under the giant duvet reading our books and being very lazy. A lovely day.

Some thoughts:

1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. A library audiobook I picked up for the drive that is obsessing both of us, and we are only on disc 2. The book describes Kingsolver's attempt to feed her family only local, seasonal foods for a year, and it is beautifully written and poetic and funny and inspiring. I am now more determined than ever to plant a big garden, to eat more locally, to order seeds, acquire chickens, bees. . . 

2. But why has it taken me so long to act on my beliefs with regards to the industrial food chain? It's not like I didn't know all this before.

I've decided it has to do with growing up in Northern California where, throughout my childhood, everyone was always on kooky food regimens. Sugar was hateful and replaced by honey; chocolate was out, carob was in. My best friend's sister went on a diet of wheat berries and goat milk in high school, and that was all she ingested, besides the LSD. (Sadly true.) One of my mother's closest friends declared herself allergic to beef, dairy, wheat, corn, and soy, insisting that they depressed her. Of course there are real food sensitivities -- peanut allergies, celiac disease -- that are not in the least frivolous. But somewhere along the way, both my sister and I decided, independently of one other, that we weren't going to be crazy food people. We weren't going to be the superior vegetarians who made the hostess feel bad that she had cooked meatballs. A perfectly respectable, sensible decision at the time, but I think I can set some higher standards for myself without becoming a complete jerk. Need to work on this. 

3. Has anyone noticed how the mozzarella on fancy margherita pizzas lacks flavor? It's like artisanal cheese-makers are trying to outdo themselves with milky blandness and whenever you get a "good" pizza you need a salt shaker and pepper flakes so it actually tastes like something. Had that experience today. Actually Isabel pointed out, so she deserves credit.

4. Wine-tasting. I hate it. Absolutely hate it. Lord knows I love wine, but I feel like an idiot making conversation about "residuals" (???) and oak barrels and having the person behind the counter watch expectantly as I sip the Viognier, then the Cab, then the Pinot, forcing me to repeatedly mumble "delicious." Then I stumble out into the bright light of day, a little muzzy-headed and disoriented and move on to the next place. I dutifully made the tasting rounds of Geyserville today, but I just don't like drinking standing up with no food, feel awkward and shy. It helps a lot to have an adult companion, but even then it's never been my thing. I may erase this shortly because if the nice people who give me these gigs ever read it they won't give me these gigs anymore, and aside from the wine-tasting part, I do love the wine country. 



  2. Been reading the blog for the past two weeks and really enjoy it. There seems to be no way around flavorless mozzarella; I use port salut instead.


  3. I'm like you--I already knew all the stuff Barbara Kingsolver says in her book, but she turned me into a zealot. Michael Pollan had a similar effect. Maybe some people have been turned off by their preachiness, but to those of us in the choir seats it sounds purty swell.