A Peasant Girl's Kitchen

by Gay Spencer 5. January 2012 10:37
A Peasant Girl's Kitchen

My mother's '70's health foodie perspective first brought the idea of "you are what you eat" to my attention. Actually, she didn't eat all that well, for quite a few reasons. The "you are what you eat" saying is thought to be from the 1826 quote of Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, "Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es." Which is to say, "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are."

It's now more in fashion to "eat with the seasons," but I'm not so sure that's any different from simply eating like an upscale peasant.

A few years ago a colleague told me he didn't believe a person to be educated unless they had read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs & Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. Luckily, he even bought me the book. It's won a Pulitzer Prize, been a NY Times Bestseller and been the basis of a PBS Nova special, so there's some support to the idea that it's got important stuff to say. Read it. Given the peasant roots, the stuff about how human life changed from hunting and gathering to growing crops and tending lifestock was most interesting. The impact of geography and the native plants and animals available for domestication is the root of the differences in civilizations. It's true that when the reading got a little dry I got an audiobook version and let someone read it to me on a long car trip. It's an important book.

Some of that matched nicely with my favorite postage stamps of a few years ago: Crops of the Americas. If you grew up on Tex-Mex cooking, as I did, you notice how corn tortillas, frijoles (refried beans) and enchilada sauce (from chili peppers) are represented on three of the five The black-eyed peas in the picture were always a Texas New Year's tradition for luck.

It's cold when the grapefruits are at their best, so I broil quite a few of them. I never cut them in half and eat them with a spoon. Section them, lay them close together on a little strip of aluminum foil, drizzle a little honey over the sections, and pop 'em in the toaster oven just till they start to brown. Yum.

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