Thursday, September 25, 2008

Country Comfort (Elton John)

My book club met last night, at my home - I had chosen Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, which I bought over a year ago with a gift certificate a friend gave me for my birthday... and still hadn't gotten around to reading...

It was substantially more detailed than I originally thought... making it a dense yet enjoyable read - I can truly say it was life-changing for me, as I continue my search for healthy living, mind body and spirit. I loved the balance of Kingsolver's lyrical text, her husband Steven's snippets of facts/figures/websites and her daughter Camille's youthfully-infused essays/recipes - daughter Lily couldn't be an official contributor (too young to sign the contract), but her innocent yet practical take on life is woven throughout (don't name animals you're going to eat... :-)

To quote the author: "This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew . . . and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air."

The Boston Globe says: "More so than even the best cookbooks, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes you want to go out and eat: to cook and garden and think, and to live a passionate and sensate life. My great fear in reviewing this book is that I might make it sound like the treatise of a hokey earth mother and do-gooder, rather than a profound, graceful, and literary work of philosophy and economics, well tempered for our times, and yet timeless."

More reviews here...

NPR interview here (thanks, FM!)...

Since we theme our menu around the monthly book choice, I had asked people to bring dishes of fruits and vegetables, organic or locally-grown, emphasis on fresh - the offerings were a virtual cornucopia of culinary delights: my zucchini casserole, No's pasta salad, S's confetti salad, E's chickpeas and spinach, Na's Green Jade Soup (with quinoa and asparagus), K's key lime pie and J's guacamole... and we feasted in that can't-believe-it's-so-delicious-yet-so-good-for-us kinda way... :-)

Thankfully, everyone else enjoyed the book as well, and our discussion was lively - we talked about ways we can be pro-active about our food choices: buying in-season, organic or locally-grown (within a 100 mile radius, preferably), either through local farmer's markets or food co-ops; planting Victory or container gardens of our own; cooking to maximize nutrients; canning and freezing for future use; buying fair-trade products (coffee, clothing, etc.); composting... and so many other ways to make a difference...

Wonderful evening on so many levels - so glad I finally made the time to read this amazing paean to the miracle of the Circle of Life!

[Added 9/26/08: Can't remember how I stumbled across
this blog, but I've been avidly following for close to a year - you don't have to be gluten-free to enjoy her recipes, her passion for fresh food and her melt-in-your-mouth poetic descriptions of living a succulent life...

Also clicked through to this from the newly-renovated Carrie and Danielle site this morning - good timing! ]

P.S. Okay... I got a little carried away with the quotes... :-)

The Grower of Trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,
whose hands reach into the ground and sprout
to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death
yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down
in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.
His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.
What miraculous seed has he swallowed
That the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth
Like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water
Descending in the dark?

QUOTE(S): "It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato." ~ Lewis Grizzard

"If organic farming is the natural way, shouldn't organic produce just be called "produce" and make the pesticide-laden stuff take the burden of an adjective?" ~ Ymber Delecto

"The greatest delight the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me and I to them." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Did you ever stop to taste a carrot? Not just eat it, but taste it? You can't taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie." ~ Astrid Alauda

"Vegetables are the food of the earth; fruit seems more the food of the heavens." ~ Sepal Felicivant

"Tell me what you eat, I'll tell you who you are." ~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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