Day 76: Food Fetishes

Food continues to preoccupy my mind. This is not unusual for me while at sea. Mealtimes are the punctuation marks in a day of rowing, and the anticipation is almost as enjoyable as the eating – in fact, sometimes more so.

My foodie thoughts today have been fueled by “Eating for England“, by Nigel Slater. I hadn’t quite finished “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” – I had got past his temporary conversion to vegetarianism, and he was just about to go out and shoot his hunter/gatherer dinner, when the iPod battery went flat and refused to recharge. So I’ve had to abandon Michael Pollan to his hunting in the wilds of northern California, and transfer my attentions to the cuisine of my home country.

Some people might think that “English cuisine” is an oxymoron, and admittedly thirty years ago much of our food was pretty bad, with a well-deserved reputation for school-dinner stodge, overdone beef and soggy vegetables. But we’ve come a long way, and English food at its best – or even at its most nostalgic – can be superb.

Nigel Slater’s book is an entertaining dash through the best and worst of English food, laced with personal anecdotes,
with an emphasis on nostalgic favourites, especially biscuits and sweets (US translation: cookies and candies), along with some less appetising traditional dishes such as tripe and faggots (erm, again, something may be lost in translation here, faggots in the English sense being a kind of meatball made from offal).

He made my mouth water with some of his descriptions – of scones with clotted cream, boiled eggs and soldiers, full English breakfasts, fish and chips, and other goodies not easy to come by in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I really shouldn’t listen to this kind of gastronomic pornography while at sea – most nights I have at least one dream about food, and now I’m daydreaming about it too. A big portion of (sustainable) fish and (organic) chips, with malt vinegar and salt, NOT ketchup, and wrapped in paper, would go down extremely well right now.

Whatever you’re having for dinner tonight, please enjoy it extra-much as a tribute to me, as I tuck into my rawfood crackers…. (see photo)

Other Stuff:

Today was rough, splashy and bashy, as I rowed across the waves. But I’m gradually making my way across the adverse current, and have now regained the ground that I lost over the course of the last few days.

I had technical problems with email last night, not succeeding in uploading my blog until this afternoon, and I haven’t yet been able to download incoming messages. So I haven’t yet seen the latest batch of comments, kindly sent to me each day by Aimee. I’ll catch up with them when I can.

Quote for the day: There is no love sincerer than the love of food. (George Bernard Shaw)

Latest Podcast now available. “Farmer in the Waves.”

Sponsored Miles: Louise McHale, Podcast Connect, Cynthia Ford, Louis Girard, Barbara Henker – thanks for sponsoring a good number of miles!

  • Louise McHale

    Hi Roz, I started reading your book this weekend! It’s totally great, thank you for being so REAL!!!

    Lots of love, Louise x

  • Anonymous

    I will have fish and chips with malt vinegar (the way I like it) in your honor tonight.
    NPR had an article about a town with lots of organic farms. The problem was the townspeople could not afford to buy the organic produce and shopped at a large chain grocer.
    After the townspeople complained the grocer started negotiations with the organic farmers and the town is expanding it’s farmers market.

  • OutsideJay

    links to her book and her Atlantic documentary http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Roz-Savage/46949996 http://www.journeyfilm.com/servlet/the-50/Rowing-the-Atlantic-%28Film/Detail Roz, I have only been following your blog for a year or so… I don’t know if you have ever blogged any “rituals” before such as  coffee and crumpets in the morning sunrise or tea and fruitcake at sunset. Possibly a traditional homage to a sea superstition after surviving another day with wits intact?  Are you able to tell us what time zone you are in… directly south of Bhutan makes you approximately GMT+6 hours, would you confirm? Row Roz Row!

  • Rico

    Both Cynthia Kruger (yesterday) and Marks_the_spot (today) are making what I think is a very important point.  That although we like to believe that “one person can make a difference”, the truth is that changing the way our society looks at things (like food) and does things (like farming) is going to require a coordinated effort between producers and consumers.  And this kind of coordination is difficult to achieve, at least in the initial phases.  But, it “is” possible.  There is a good book that addresses how people can start working together on these kinds of issues.  “The Town That Food Saved:  How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food” by Ben Hewitt (2009), talks about the changes that were needed, and the successes that were achieved, as an entire town came together to rededicate itself to real food.

    Here’s a short paragraph from the book jacket:  “For nearly a century, the blue-collar town of Hardwick, Vermont, has known hard times.  The town’s median income runs 25 percent below the state average; its unemployment rate, 40 percent higher.  But over the past three years — amid an economic crisis that threatens to cripple small businesses and privately owned farms across the nation — Hardwick has jump-started its economy with a stunning number of food-based businesses built by a group of young, innovative entrepreneurs who support each other by sharing advice, equipment, and capital.”

    What I like about the book, and what I like about Hardwick (which, in the interest of “full disclosure”, is about twenty miles from where I grew up) is that they have not only “identified the problem” (as many pundits and writers have done), but that they are offering us a way out of this mess by following their example.  People really need to start coming together on this issue, working together toward a better future.  And as a review says on the back cover of the book:  “If there is any town in America that points the way toward a workable future, it’s Hardwick.  But don’t move there — read the book so you can make it happen in your place, too!”  (Bill McKibben, author of “Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1532019852 Joan Sherwood

    Roz, your mention of “lost in translation” reminded me of the little giggle you had when we drove through the Poncey-Highland neighborhood here in Atlanta. 

    All is good here. Still farm shopping. Michelle left for home this morning after another long stay. Yesterday she, Deb, and I all went to the Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival, where local farmers are paired with chefs to create little delicacies and cocktails, all containing tomatoes, and it’s a fundraiser for Georgia Organics. It was a HUGE crowd, and all plates and utensils were compostable, very little plastic used, and recycling bins for that all around. In our home garden, the juvenile mockingbirds have been feasting on our tomatoes, so we’re fighting back with mesh to keep them off the plants now.

    Best,
    Joan

  • http://www.facebook.com/martha.kaufeldt Martha Miller Kaufeldt

    RIck and I watch the movie “Hempsters” this weekend. It documents (a small portion of) the movement to legalize (in the U.S.) the farming of industrial hemp. http://www.hempstersthemovie.com/master.html  This incredible crop can be used for so many things: fiber, textiles, paper, food and possibly fuel! It can be harvested several times a year – talk about sustainable! And yet, still illegal to grow in the US!

    We also join the ranks of some of your other followers and wish you would consider fishing for a fresh meal. Rick suggests gutting, washing, salting and then air-drying on deck as you row. We know you have so much free time on your hands! ;-)   Just thinking of you everyday Roz.

  • Stephen Stewart

    Perhaps a diesel engine running on biofuel? To be E. C. (enviornmentaly correct) of course.  You might pick up some french fry oil at your local McDonalds. That’s chips to you.  All the best,  Stephen

  • Fiona

    Thank you for all your comments about food…  If this makes you any less food homesick ( is that what you have ? ) some poor lady in the press today , has a passion for furniture polish.She is pregnant , but … 

  • Juliet English

    Raised my bowl of Mac and Cheese to you tonight, Roz!!  Take my hat off to you – I might’ve started chewing up Sedna by now!! :) Hope that winds and currents will soon improve in your favour.

  • John Kay

    Ah, food. Yesterday we joined a tour of some of our local farms to see how they manage with plots scattered around in people’s spare land – an acre here, half an acre somewhere else, three or four another mile away. We lunched al fresco on locally bred and excuted free-range chicken, grilled with seven or eight vegetables and five-lettuce salad on a crisp corn tortilla. All locally grown and organic.

    Sorry, Roz. Are you still working through that oatmeal specially imported from England?

  • Erin

    Dear Roz.
    I have failed to keep up on a dailyi basis (lost you for months) but am back at it again. You say you are in the Indian Ocean. Are you fearful of the pirate attacks that have happened there?
    Also, where is your destination?
    Is there any way I can track you to see where exactly you are in the ocean ….? ( I realize these questions are mundane, but again, I lost touch with you for quite some time)…get me back on track!
    I can’t believe the things you go thru, they are so amazing. WOW you are a woman of adventure, passion, sentiment. What an inspiration you are.
    Erin (Wisconsin, USA)