Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed out

The food less travelled



Last night, my Perfect Partner got down and dirty for me. Using nimble fingers and a time-tested technique, she reached into the damp darkness and searched until she found the hard, rapidly-growing… potatoes!

Really, get your mind out of the gutter.

They were small, red skinned and, if you listened carefully, still anthropomorphically screaming from having been filched prematurely from the nurturing roots of their indifferent mother, who remained upright and proud, flowers in her hair, basking in the long rays of the last sunlight of the day. A couple of minutes later, they were washed, diced and sautéing to perfection along with an onion, red pepper and a couple of ears worth of corn kernels labouriously removed from the cob they’d grown on.

The corn was from Washington state. The onion and pepper were from B.C. The chives were from a few steps closer to the kitchen than the spuds. The only well-traveled ingredient in this local-fest feast was the olive oil which spoke with a decidedly Italian accent. Bellissimo, baby. But until someone starts growing olives in Osoyoos, this is about as local as I can get.

Local — whatever that means and, trust me, as with all things commercial, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything as simple as, well, local — is the new holy grail in the world of food. Local is the fountain of youth, the G-spot, the politically correct way to eat, the salvation of Earth, the way of the future now that the future is the past, and a newly-found source of both status and bragging rights. Locavore, ugly as sin in print, conjuring up as it does neighbour eating neighbour, was last year’s word-o-the-year.

Local is fresher, better, more sustainable, greener-than-green, and the quickest way known to man to whittle down your food miles and lessen your carbon footprint. More to the point — speaking strictly from a hedonistic point of view — local tastes better. Or does it?

Being the Goddess of Plenty, my Perfect Partner stole a few more potatoes than I needed to make whatever the dish I was making is called. Feeling sorry for those left out, I rapidly turned them into a potato sushi starter. Sliced thinly and sprinkled liberally with fresh-ground sea salt — oh lord, this is getting insufferable — I ate ’em raw. If you’re not a fan of raw, salted potatoes, you are missing out on one of life’s treats. And if you’ve never tasted raw potatoes still warm from the earth they were grown in, it would probably come as a surprise to learn they’re sweeter than many fruits you commonly think of as sweet.