Editor's Note Summer 2012
Written onJune 01 , 2012
Not everyone gets to eat popcorn popped in pork fat. But there it was in a big pot, greeting four sweaty interns after our morning removing a winter’s worth of bedded pack from a hoop house and doing other tasks too numerous to mention. The popcorn was mighty tasty, and eager hands grabbed for it around the communal table.
It was a typical noontime meal at Green Mountain Girls Farm in Northfield, where I’m working one day a week this summer. Each workday (which is every day on a farm), lunch is prepared for all by someone who works there: Mari Omland or Laura Olsen, the farmer-owners, or one of the interns. (I hear Laura’s mom might get put in the rotation when she moves next door this summer.) What impresses me each time is that the meals are made with whatever is in the fridge—which is primarily what comes from the land we’ve just worked.
It’s like that segment on NPR’s The Splendid Table, a program that’s a little too foodie for me, except for the part when a caller tells a celebrity what’s in his or her fridge, and the celebrity has to make a brilliant creation out of it. Our lunches at the farm are similarly experimental and intuitive, mixing pork and chard and eggs and chevre and salsa and ground turkey and tomatillos and radishes in more ways than one could possibly imagine.
What did I cook for my first farmers’ lunch? Kielbasa burritos—a true manifestation of multiculturalism in food.
Farmer food is the antithesis of most recipes you find in magazines, which try to be memorable by being complex. Yet, as we were putting together this issue of Local Banquet, I realized that improvised farm lunches have a lot in common with the recipes we’re running in this issue. Writers Claire Fitts, Katie Spring, and Jen Smith were all highly experimental in the recipe creations they undertook for their articles. Like the folks at Green Mountain Girls Farm, they were working with a limited ingredient list and following their instincts.
As a result, we have an essay on page 8 about turning invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard into tasty desserts; a first-person account on page 18 of being a professional recipe developer with an occasional vegan twist; and an article on page 12 about how to adapt favorite baked goods into gluten-free ones. Although recipes aren’t the focus at Local Banquet, we’re happy that synchronicity led most of the recipes in this issue to be paeans to self-taught culinary creativity.
Pass the porky popcorn!