cafe mama's kitchen

inconvenient eating

a book about a life, a scramble after inconvenient, ancient foods

It has been explained, to us, to married women and young, passionate career-ists and fathers, but especially to mothers, that our greatest desire is for convenience. All we need is not, after all, love; it is prewashed presliced precooked prediced prebaked presweetened wrapped up and with natural flavors added. With that, we can express our love with the minimum of work, only having to spend time in the buying.

We have done this, pushing piles of cookbooks off our counters whose titles express how busy are these modern lives. We will get all these recipes completed in less than 30 minutes; these other ones will provide the illusion of care, mess, agony over detail. Our media tells us jokes about women who buy cupcakes and roast turkeys and pretend to have made them, when in fact the career's demands were too dear to spend minutes (even 30), oven-bound. We are supposed to see ourselves in these images, we are supposed to laugh.

Our laughter is shrill, forced. We are hurting. Our children are hurting. Something neither we nor the men and women who work on tall hills, each sporting a doctorate or two, can explain, is rising up within these beloved-but-poorly understood. It lashes out, wraith-like, it raises high a dagger of this is wrong and plunges it into our throats. Gasping, dripping, bloody, we reach: for hope, a mantra, a tool. Anything to sustain us.

Something deep within us, an ancient wisdom from very near the dawn of familial ties, rooted in the earliest flush of prolactin -- the mothering hormone -- tells us that food is the answer. And food is not a subject we have been taught, it is alien to our areas of expertise. We know many things, how to dissect a sentence and write a convincing brief and balance an income statement. We know how to navigate office politics and write a resume that blithely eliminates our motherhood from a potential employers' concerns. We know how to work several voice mail systems and install Ubuntu.

But give us a box of peaches, a sharp paring knife and a case of pint canning jars and, even with this desire-that's-deep -- to know from where comes our food, to challenge our sugary addictions, to loose our kids from toxins like BPAs and pesticides, to fill our homes full of golden jarred treasures whose worth will not now, not ever, be traded on any exchange -- what rises in our veins, our throat, our souls is not life-giving pride, but fear.

nectarines in jars

I've felt the fear too, and breathed deep, swallowed, prayed, and conquered some of it, taking my food life by the shoulders and wrestling, Jacob-like, until I understood. We stood there at my kitchen sink, eye-to-mirrored-eye, and the charge that shook us deep in our bellies was the satisfaction, the quiet of whole, real, inconvenient food.


I am writing a book about this food, this food life. I cannot wait for you to taste it; sample, here.


august 12 . 2010