At the local farmer's market grocery store this afternoon, the twenty-something cashier looked at my goods and asked, "Are you having a party or something?" Well, some of the groceries are for the big shebang concert happening at my mom's Saturday, but not many of them. I replied, "No, not really, these are just my groceries." We talked for a brief moment about cooking and how he has no idea how to do it. The young man only realized this after he moved away from home, and boiled noodles have been on his dinner plate every night since. My piles of veggies, fruits, base ingredients, and the chuck roast (oh, and two bottles of Italian wine) struck him as party worthy, which seems strange in a Farmer's market style grocery store.
Is cooking becoming more magic than anything else? Mysterious that a person buys two different types of cabbage, four beautiful cantaloupe, broccoli AND cauliflower? But food is life - three times a day or so it fuels the body, energizes or depletes, revitalizes, ravishes, elevates, and sometimes disastrously devastates too. Devastating that we don't really get the connections. So many functions, feelings, hormones, actions, diseases are influenced by what passes over our lips, into the mouth and beyond.
This morning my Italian mother-in-law picked purple to the pit plums from my mom's abundantly fruited tree. Two pounds from the big box of tangy-sweet contents needed to become a plum crisp. How pleasing the purple stains on my plum pitting fingers struck me, how delightful the contrast of bubbly fruit with butter, oat, walnut, and sugar topping, blond and brown all over, how completely wholesome and clean in the best, messiest way. Odd and amazing to pick luscious plums in the morning and turn them, by magic almost, into crisp the likes of this one a few hours later.
I am sorry for the young clerk and his noodles. I wouldn't trade this little power-of-food-knowledge for anything. I will, however, gladly share my recipe for Plum Crisp with you.