It's finals week for me so I'm drawing on old material. Here's a an excerpt from a story I wrote about acorns from 2016:
Growing up, I celebrated my birthdays with Rainbow Chip frosted cakes from a box. There is more vapid pleasure than lasting gratification in those cakes, and no matter how much Rainbow Chip frosting I eat, I always long for more, chasing the first taste like a hungry ghost. I learned in 2009 that food indulgence could be a multidimensional experience: nutritive, richly delicious, decisively satisfying, and spiritually sea changing—a revelation to my processed-food youth.My dearest friend Felix made an acorn birthday cake to commemorate my 23rd trip around the sun, using acorns he had shelled, leached, and ground, made creamy and smooth with rendered tallow from a bison he personally assisted in butchering. He frosted this gem with hand-picked wild autumn olive berries, mashed and milled with local honey. The flavor was unforgettably earthy and sweet, like fallen leaves, alongside a fudgy richness that filled me solid with promises of forever wholeness. Made strictly of ingredients Felix foraged or found locally (save the salt), each ingredient’s origin story was a prayer he folded carefully into the batter. Yet amongst the more storied pieces, the most decadent element of this cake was, in our modern age, time.
Yes, Felix’s cake was artisanal with a capital A, a word that’s come to have strong associations with the foodie bourgeoisie. If he tried to buy that cake in the store, he couldn’t afford it, yet having time to indulge a hobby in the deepest measure is also a luxury. Being the Little Red Hen is something most people just can’t afford—in the sense of time, money, or interest. How humans have related to their food for millennia as a necessity, knowing and engaging intimately with each morsel that crosses their lips, has gone from common to exotic. Continue reading
At the end, I mention Felix's public fruit and nut tree initiative Help Yourself. Right now he's actively raising some funds for this great program. He and dozens of volunteers are the reason we've got aronia, rosehips, juneberries, grapes, and several other delicious food crops free for picking and sharing growing right in downtown Northampton. Consider pitching in to make the edible landscape dream real.
These foods are our future.
Carly lives and eats from a hilltop in Cummington, Massachsuetts and part time in Schenectady, NY.