Food, Glorious Food

Sunday is vegetable market day. It is an all-day affair, and one can easily spent a lot of time– and money — on the excursion. But there are not just vegetables — there is a seafood corner and a meat corner, and all along the street there are fruit sellers, dhal and spice sellers, container sellers, the list goes on.

We are trying to figure out the prices of things so we know what is a good price and when we are being hung out to dry (which takes a while during monsoon), but it us a difficult task.

The meat and seafood corners we have not yet tackled. Being a locavore here is pretty easy, that isn’t an issue at all, but the humane ideas of taking good care of the animals doesn’t really exist.

After all, the animals are lower than the untouchables in the caste system.

So we need to do a little digging to find out how to get good meat here. And then there is the sanitary issue we need to be concerned with as well.

In America, to buy raw milk means the milk lasts longer than pasteurized. We bought raw milk for years there, and despite the governmental concerns, laws and regulations, we never had a problem with it. It tastes better and is better for you.

I don’t know if the milk we buy here is raw or not, but the deal is you HAVE to boil it, and you have to boil it the day you buy it, or there is a high chance it will be spoiled. We boil it briefly — let it rise to a boil and turn off the heat. If one has a fridge to store it in, then a first boil is all you do; otherwise, you have to boil it every time you want to use it.

And that makes cold cereal tough.

We bought a fridge, in the end, for lots of reasons — it is a very small fridge, so we have to be selective with what we keep in it.

But lucky us, we have a cold storage. It’s essentially a hole in the exterior wall, screened in and covered, with shelves. It acts as a fridge most of the year in this cool climate. We store our vegetables there, and as the week progresses and space opens up, other things as well: the night’s leftovers, butter, etc.

I hate using “etc.” — my mother taught me well — I use it when I get lazy. Consider me lazy.

There are many good literary works that center around food. Jessica Prentice’s Full Moon Feast is a great book on the how nutrient-dense foods feed the soul (okay a disclaimer — she is my sister — but it IS a great book), Sandra Beasley wrote a memoir on her relationship with food as someone with food allergies that opened my eyes a bit, Babette’s Feast and Like Water For Chocolate were both made into great films. I could go on.

A poet friend of mine suggested I write the male version of Eat, Pray, Love. I didn’t object, but i am not so sure either.

I am already in the very slow process of writing a problematic chapbook on food. I see my issue with finishing it mostly being one of closeness. We are what we eat. We need food to survive. Food is not over there, it is in me — literally, at the end of its cycle.

I feel very strongly about it, and that makes it hard to write about.

The chapbook has been swarming in my head for years. Only last year did I start writing it. Perhaps it won’t take nearly as long to write it as it has thinking about writing it. That was definitely true with my latest project, which has a pretty close-to-home subject. But more on that later.

Food. How does one write about it without sounding so didactic when there is so much emotion and importance behind it?

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