Thursday, 24 March 2016

Twelve Local Seasons

MacKinnon. JB., Smith. A., 2007. The 100-Mile Diet. Vintage Canada Edition, Toronto, Canada.

This morning I woke up at 4:00 am to start the custard. I wanted to leave enough time in the day to make two complete batches of ice cream in case the first went totally wrong. As the custard was thickening I started the second half of The 100 Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B MacKinnon. This section of the book starts with a trip to the market for a box of 160 ears of corn, which is meant to be a major portion of their winter diet. Alisa then discusses how much time modern people waste. Ancient hunter-gatherers spent 2 days a week looking for food to sustain themselves. This is much less than what the modern person works in a normal work week. On top of the normal work week we also waste time commuting. Furthermore, towards the middle of the book their blog starts to gain popularity and fans try to and get in contact with them. This helps motivate them to stick to their local diet. As thanksgiving approaches James and Alisa decide to spend the holiday apart. Alisa spends thanksgiving at her friend Dave’s house and is oddly taken back by his eldest daughter who reminds her of an ideal version of herself. A person who is able to follow in whichever path they would like. Where as James spent the holiday at his mother’s house in Kamloops in order to support his brother whose life has been drastically altered. During these nine days spent with family he strays from the local diet. When they came home they discovered what was left of their grain was infested with weevils and the potatoes were ruined by blithe. Later that month James drives his brother up to his place and on the way they stop at a walnut farm and winery. When they get home Alisha surprises them with the location of a local wheat producer that they immediately go to see. Within two weeks they have pounds of ground wheat and their meal possibilities broaden. Alisa then takes a work trip to the Pender Islands where she interviews an Indian man who is concerned over the loss of culture he’s seen in his home town over the course of his life. This doesn’t sit well with Alisa. When Alisa gets home she decides to make a soup for James in hope that this gesture of good faith will help to mend their relationship, or at least make a step in the right direction. The soup is a success and represents a turning point in their relationship. The decision to stay together, at least for now. Together they take a trip to meet Sunny and her 7 friends who did a 250-mile diet, but unlike James and Alisa they caught some of their own game. The book ends with their trip to Mexico where everything they buy at venders and markets is grown within 100 miles. A totally different food culture than our industrial world. With the last line in the book Alisa indirectly expresses the impact of what eating local for a year has done for her. She now sees her surroundings as calmer and enjoys the simpler things in life. They’re were several things I liked about the second half of 100-mile diet some of which include Alisa explanation on how modern people waste time, the description of sauerkraut and the theory of the Pirogi party.

   Alisha looks at how much time hunter gatherers spent collecting food and other necessities they needed to live and compared it to how much time the average person spends working in their week. The average hunter gatherer only spends 2 days working, where as the average modern person works a 40-hour week. On top of that every day spends 50 minutes shopping, 10 minutes on religious practices, 2½ hours on television, 8 minutes on volunteering and 25 minutes to commute each way to work. Breaking down how the average person spends their time puts things into perspective, but I also liked their description of sauerkraut.

   The description of the production of sauerkraut was really surprising. My grandma makes sauerkraut all the time and has never described it in such a way. First, buy a massive head of cabbage from someone who looks like German opera singer. Next, slice the cabbage and add 3 tablespoons of salt for every five pounds of leaves and leave the mixture in a cheap Chinese glazed vase with a heavy plate on top to squeeze out the cabbage juice. Leave the cabbage like this for weeks and it will turn into sauerkraut. In the process it will make your house smell like an unflushed urinal. During the process periodically skim off the mold and flies. The description of sauerkraut was surprising but I also liked the theory of the pirogi party.

   The theory of the pirogi party was that getting drunk and cooking with friends made more memories than sitting around and watching movies with the same people. Two of Alisha and James friends came up with the idea after they attended a party where they made dumplings, sang folk songs and took shots to the point of drunken nausea. The theory proves true.

   My experience cooking my own local dish was different. Instead of going to Walmart or wholesale like I normally do before cooking I had to hunt down distributers of local products, which at first was time consuming, but now I know where to find those ingredients. I chose to make blueberry ice cream and I’ve never made ice cream myself before, or custard either, which is a key component of ice cream. To make the custard I separated ten yolks from the whites of ten eggs only breaking two yolks in the process. With the remaining whites and the two broken yolks I made a massive omelet that I could in now way hope to finish. I then added two cups of homo milk and a cup of honey, while stirring on low heat for what felt like an hour before the custard finally thickened. Once the custard was made I put it in the fridge to cool for a few hours while I was in class. When I got home I added the custard to a litre of whipping cream and put it in the freezer. For the blueberry flavouring I cooked a cup and a half of blueberries with some honey for a few minutes until it thickened up and then added it to the ice cream. That was probably a bad call because now all the cream and custard that had previously frozen was completely thawed. Nevertheless, in a few hours the everything froze together and turned out. For a day I felt like Alisa and James.




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