9.26.2008

BROWNIES & BRAIN POWER


This afternoon, I’ll be up to my elbows in Alchemy’s brownie mix, as they’re being featured on onegoodie.com through the weekend. And looking at the One Goodie website this morning, I had that feeling again, the artisan thing, the weird dichotomy of the creator, the did I really make that? moment. I’ve had the same feeling as a writer. Last year, I re-read my thesis novel and found myself engaged. It made no sense! Engaged as a reader in my own writing?

The something-funny with food is easier to nail down. As an artisan, you become, at once, connected and unconnected to the idea of the food as food. Of course, following procedure regarding cleanliness and packaging, etc…, you’re aware that what you’re making is a “consumable,” but you rarely think of the fact that when it leaves your hands it will become a part of folks daily lives: beside them as they’re wearing pajamas, stirring a pot of a curry on the stove; a signifier of what their kids will remember as dad’s cooking; a part of their pleasure of eating dinner in the evening.

When Chris and I were shopping for a house a couple of years ago, we had the strange occurrence of opening cabinet doors (checking out the space, of course) and finding Alchemy spices. Sort of surreal. It’s in these moments that it takes extra brainpower to process the fact that your hands created that blend, labeled that bottle (which now, gasp, looks like a real grocery item!). Kind of like raising a kid, maybe, and finding at some point that they’re their own person; on the store shelf or in someone else’s kitchen, even things you’ve created cease being yours and actually become “products,” unto themselves.

Which reminds me of a story that my college writing professor Dr. S.S. Hanna told; attending a fiction reading, one evening, Hanna was surprised to see the author turn his novel sideways, mid-reading. The author was, of course, including an edit he’d made in the margin of his published book! A wild twist on separation anxiety or, perhaps, pure denial? It makes you feel small after all; regardless of all your concern and care, once something can stand on its own, it's completely beyond your grasp.

BTW, my husband Chris and our friend Blythe kayaked out to what they thought was an unpopulated island last spring and found an organic farm, completed with sheep, chickens, and an airstream trailer. Pretty wild! Here’s an article about the Williams Island crew:
http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2008/sep/25/farming-williams-island/

Compare this to the touted Outstanding in the Field experience, a “restaurant” staged in the fields of working farms and charging $200-plus per plate (well, five plates, really) for food that is enjoyed at its source (shouldn’t that be less expensive given the zero-carbon-footprint thing?). While the table settings are idyllic and the food, most certainly, is delicious, I’m awed to see each coming dinner marked “sold out.” The experience is, most assuredly, not an authentic farm experience: it’s polished to a sheen with sterile table cloths, china, and servers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s lovely. But farm-to-table in the truest sense? I think not.

1 comment:

mwiegers said...

Your Alchemy spices have overun our spice cabinet for a few years now! So much so I had to install their own spice rack holder on the wall. Now I get to walk by and look at them. They are all almost empty at this point, but Christmas is coming baby! My family always gives me some of your spices in my stocking. Fun fun! I'm also a constant advertisement for you in my kitchen as they adorn my wall. So thankful for your creative spices that spunk up our food and the extra great thing that most are sugar and gluten-free. Thanks!
Michelle