June 6, 2009

Food, glorious food!!

Last May we spent 5 wonderful nights in Rome. Roma è molto bella! The apartment we rented was literally steps from one of the most fabulous farmer's markets I've ever been to (of course, any market in Rome is more magical than anything I have encountered in my American residences). Campo de Fiori (translated as 'field of flowers') provided a tapestry of home grown goods- darling penny-sized strawberries that burst into springtime on your tongue, a panalopy of citrus fruits and lush veggies of every variety. *sigh* When I think farmer's market, this is what I envision.

Of course, the reality in Central Nowhere is quite different. The market in the U.S. doesn't exactly encourage the presence of quality home grown goods in most corners of the country, which is turning into a travesty in my mind. I'm not advocating complete abandonment of modern farming techniques in favor of totally organic, home-grown production- that wouldn't be feasible. There are millions of people out there who can't afford the often increased price tag that goes with organically grown items, or even plain old small farm grown (though anymore, small farmers have to be organic to fit into a sales niche). For those people, the option of having a mass produced product may be the difference between them eating fresh veggies or canned sodium... I mean canned veggies.The issue is that for those of us, like Mr. P and myself, who'd like to purchase more flavorful and aromatic fruits, veggies and other assorted tasties, the choice just isn't there. We spent 10 minutes perusing the 'farmer's market' in our new hometown this weekend and it was... disappointing. 5 stands, and two of them sold tomatoes, 1 sold soap, and that was about it.

Its not that I think organic items are necessarily more healthy- there have been several reputable studies which found that commonly used production techniques are safe, and that isn't an argument I want to get into. It simply comes down to taste- the mass produced breeds of tomatoes, beans and other common vegetative matter we ingest have been bred to be hardier and lower maintenance, or they've been bred for specific size or color. None of these factors focus on what is, for the Pony family, the most important factor- taste. The goods we buy at a local farmer's market *daydreams of the Campo* evoke memories of sunshine and afternoon showers while also adding much greater depth to a meal (the meal below, for example, was a variety of freshly made and grown goods from vendors at Campo de Fiori).

So no, I'm not a raving hippie, but I do appreciate the finer things in life. For the Pony family, one of the finest things is delicious food, and I can't wait to move to an area with a more active community of small farmers who can provide us with the scrumptious ingredients we desire.

Or, barring that, we'll jump the American ship and move to Rome;).

A good meal soothes the soul as it regenerates the body. From the abundance of it flows a benign benevolence. -Frederick W. Hackwood

*photo from cuellar's flicker photostream
**photo from wenzday01's flicker photostream
***photos by me

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