Friday, September 05, 2008
I covered Slow Food Nation, the gargantuan food festival that took place over Labor Day weekend in San Francisco, for my paper (here) and (here). It was a whirlwind of farmers and chefs, pickles and produce—an event that aimed to teach and entertain, feed and foster awareness of food that is “good, clean, and fair.”
I had a wonderful time at the festival, wandering among the booths at the market on the Civic Center Plaza and sampling Gruyere and oak barreled brew at the Taste Pavilion. But it was difficult to work through the anticipation for the event, born of media hype (mine included, yes) and their own massive expectations, which touch upon changing the face of the American food system. Hard to pull off over the course of a three-day party.
Many of the ideas behind this celebrity and celebration, however, have been present where I am living here in West Marin for a long time, and I find myself running into living variations on a daily basis. I interview farmers and ranchers; I shop at the market filled with local produce and personalities. There is an open-air, 24-hour stand a bit south on Highway One where I can buy chard, potatoes, or vibrant-hued flowers at any time of day. Raw honey, plums plucked from the tree, barbecues glowing in an otherwise pitch-black night. Food, both the growing and the eating, sustains and brings people together here in sharper focus than New York or Boston, perhaps because of the community’s heavy reliance on agriculture.
Just the other day I was given a container of eggs so fresh tiny feathers poked out next to the pastel-tinted shells. Poached, on a bed of sautéed swiss chard: perfect.