fiction and food

I spent a good deal of time yesterday reading Jennifer Egan’s beautiful fiction in last week’s New Yorker. I read it at the beach while Jacob was surfing, then I read it in the car driving to get an ice cream, then I read it while eating the ice cream, (I briefly put it down while we drove down the street from the ice cream shop to the bird sanctuary at the lighthouse where we usually see dolphins and whales) then I read it while we were driving home.

Then I sat and looked at the sun setting on our last night on vacation and let the story sink into my heart. There were some weird, unsettling parallels between it and my life that sort of shook me up: I also went on an African safari when I was a pre-teen, my father was also a misogynist druggie, I also have a complicated relationship with a troubled brother. Apart from all that, it was just super beautiful and touching and well done. I’ve read one of her books, The Invisible Circus, and adored it. I guess I should check out the rest.

(The safari? It was really weird. My mom’s childhood best friend, Harriet, worked at the Chicago Tribune and was assigned to do a story about family-friendly African safaris. Having no children of her own, she brought me along. The safari was exactly, precisely as Egan described it: weirdly luxurious, filled with white people, scary and thrilling and with lots of racial and class subtexts that I felt even as a kid. I hated all the richie kids on the trip [and they hated me: they called me “rat girl” because I had shaved off my bangs about a month before in a desperate attempt to look less like Winnie Cooper, (actually…that doesn’t really explain why they called me rat girl. I was sort of a late bloomer, OK? Not a pretty kid.). I spent most of my time puking on the long drives and chatting with a thrilling National Geographic explorer couple who shared exotic teas and told me stories of their travels and, quietly, promised me that this weird, awkward and (they could feel the fear and uneasiness that every day life created in me, I could tell) slightly horrible phase in my life would come to an end. And it did! So fuck you, richie kids who are all probably cokehead investment bankers now: FUCK YOU!)

*     *    *

As I write this paragraph, Jacob just handed me a glass of ice-cold freshly squeezed orange and tangerine juice, made to use up the last of our giant stash of farmer’s market Hawaii fruit—and all of the sudden one of those weird things happened where a memory comes to you so forcefully that it sort of stabs your heart. On the plane from New York (the only time I’d ever been in New York prior to moving there for the rest of my life when I was 18 was that hour layover in JFK when I was 13) to Amsterdam on the way to Tanzania, Harriet got us bumped up to business class. She might have just paid for the upgrade, I don’t know, but I was beyond amazed by the riches of business class. I still have the little pouch of goodies (eye mask, shoe horn [WTF], earplugs, thin socks, tiny toothbrush and toothpaste) from that flight somewhere in the garage, but what impressed me the most was the champagne glass (not plastic cup!) of freshly-squeezed orange juice they handed me before we even took off! I’d flown to Chicago every summer with my mother and brother, so I was used to flying and always looked forward, like kids do, to the drink cart. But this oj was a whole other level. The idea that you could get sparkling cold, fresh orange juice (I was a fruit fiend as a kid—I still am) in a champagne glass…I don’t know. It’s possible I’d never actually had fresh orange juice, though the hellscape I grew up in was rich with oranges. We were an oj concentrate sort of family. For about a decade after that (and, apparently, for almost another decade after that), fresh orange juice has been a pleasure that speaks to me of achieving a certain sort of a life: an appreciation of quality, a calm knowledge that you’ve figured things out.

Is it classist, what orange juice does to me? It was one of the first cannon fires in what has become my all-consuming passion for eating quality food. And, maybe even more important, it was the first sign on a trip full of signs that not everyone lived the way my family lived—in good (we were not living in abject poverty in Africa) and bad (not everyone was terrified of their ragey fathers and lived in squalor) ways. Since then I’ve been a striver. Not for money, but for a better way of being. When Jacob gave me the pint glass full to the brim with orange juice today, he said: “Both these glasses cost about $1.50 worth of oranges!” Living well doesn’t necessarily take money—just imagination, ingenuity, and a certain sort of freedom. It’s entirely fair to say that a glass of oj on a business class flight almost twenty years ago set that desire in motion.

So, anyway! I encourage you to read the story.

To change gears entirely:

I intended to hop online really quick just to mention the story and that my pals Erin & Sam’s CSA is still accepting people for this summer.

If you live in the New Paltz area and are looking for great veggies this summer, check out the details in this letter from them, and email them at for an application form:

Hello Friends,

The 2010 season is upon us, which means we are ready for members to start joining!  This year, we started a new early sign up initiative:  If you sign up by March 1, 2010, your 2010 CSA cost will be $400.  If you sign up after March 1, the CSA cost increases by $100, for a total of $500.  These prices DO NOT include the transportation fee for the Garrison, NY distribution.

Please see the attached pdf of our 2010 brochure/order form for information on sign-up requirements and the distribution dates and times.  If you would like us to mail one to you, please reply with your address.

Our seed orders are pretty much complete, and our garden planning is coming along nicely.  We took a lot of feedback to heart, and hope to have some wonderful new additions to our 2010 distributions.  In 2010 you can look forward to:

A regular supply of lettuce
More exciting varieties of summer and winter squash
More onions
More spinach in the spring and fall
Swiss chard
A wide variety of eggplant
And much more!

Will will continue to provide the same great selection and bounty as we did in 2009.  You can still expect weekly updates and recipes, community food preservation events, and careful attention to the quality and selection of your produce.

Our Distribution Days

You might notice that the Saturday on-farm distribution is missing from the order form.  We omitted it from the 2010 schedule because it seemed to be unpopular.  Having such a small percentage of our members pick up on Saturdays wasn’t sustainable for us last year.  However, we do not want to abandon any members because we value everyone’s needs.  If you are committed to a Saturday pick up, please let us know in an email or by phone.  If we hear from enough people on this matter, we will bring it back!

The Seedling Sale!
It is the middle of winter, but we are already thinking about seedlings!  Remember to plan on the Four Winds Farm Seedling Sale for your personal vegetable garden needs!

If you know folks who are in need of a CSA, please forward this on!

We hope 2010 is turning out splendidly for you all.  We can’t wait to hear from you.

Best Wishes,

Erin Enouen
Sam Zurofsky

Second Wind CSA
Gardiner, NY

2 Responses to “fiction and food”

  1. Jordan

    This was a great entry Thanks for sharing… “Living well doesn’t necessarily take money—just imagination, ingenuity, and a certain sort of freedom”. That was my favorite part. Well said. Now I crave a good glass of O.J.


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