Weirdly, the field from which beautiful peaches and apricots come looks exactly like the field from which the toxic peaches of my youth sprouted: dusty, random, and sprawling.
As the sprayer-machine drove by to wet the road to avoid dustifiying the driving machines of us city-and-country-dwellers whose education and tastes dictate a life in the city, disjunct from the food supply, but, ironically, also provide us the means and curiosity to both see from whence our food comes and to attend a canning seminar, I flinched and considered possible escape routes: I once outran a malathion helicopter in Los Angeles (or at least I hope I did). But the sprayer misted the earth with water, not insecticide. Once I was confident in this, I relaxed into the task of preparing an intricate gourmet dinner for 35 equipped with little more than a bag of mesquite charcoal and an oil drum with a grate on top.
We were prepared as can be, and the last-minute decision to swap out prik king (red thai curry paste) for achiote paste turned out to be a good call. Of course, in any situation, which involves both five-star aspirations and a rustic setting, some compromises must be made. (Hopefully no one noticed!)
The most interesting part of the event was, of course, hanging w/ the inestimable Anya Fernald and her young, energetic, committed staff. A major breakthrough occurred as a result of this event: my conversations with Anya and Eat Real administrator Susan Coss may result in our organizing one of the first ever lecture series on sustainability of the labor aspect of the restaurant industry. Who cares, which farm the endive, is from if the person preparing it for you has a miserable life?
Again, special thanks to Moyra of Capay for helping organize the event, everyone at Capay and Eat Real, and of course, everyone in attendance. I can’t possibly say enough good things about these classes: take one, everybody!