One of the most formative books I listened to this summer while at sea was The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. And one of my favourite poets is Michael Ondaatje, who also wrote The English Patient.
So what could possibly be better than being invited to attend a small, select lunch with Dr Aenor Sawyer (my esteemed expedition medic), Michael Ondaatje, Kitchen Sister Davia Nelson, and two characters from the Omnivore’s Dilemma – forager/blacksmith Angelo Garro and landowner Richard Hylton? It was a dream come true!
The only problem was that my schedule was already chockablock, and Michael was only briefly in town. But somehow we managed to shoehorn in a lunch at Angelo Garro’s forge in downtown San Francisco. So even though it seemed a horrible contradiction in terms, I had a QUICK lunch prepared by one of the leading proponents of the SLOW Food movement before dashing off to a prior commitment.
Angelo’s forge is an Aladdin’s cave of metal objects, hanging from and resting upon every available surface. But his kitchen is full of light, a huge chandelier hanging over the dining table. Plates of paper-thin home-cured ham accompanied rose wine, before we moved on to home-made pasta with pesto sauce, sausages, and salad.
It was the kind of lunch – and the kind of company – that deserved an entire, leisurely, relaxed afternoon. We weren’t able to do that this time around. But it felt like one of those meetings that is just the beginning of some very special friendships. I felt very lucky to meet these amazing and talented people.
Angelo has offered to take me foraging the next time I am in the Bay Area. As Vic and I have discussed extensively in our podcast, self-reliant people are resilient people. Knowing how to find your own food – other than on the shelves of the nearest supermarket – is an empowering skill to have. So far, the full extent of my foraging is a single mushroom-hunting expedition with a friend in England. Mushrooms are great, but not much to live on. So I am looking forward to learning more. I’ve also spotted some great courses organized by the Low Impact Living Initiative in Britain, which I will be checking out when I have the time.
After a few days in DC (more info in my next blog) I am now in New York for 24 hours before heading back to Britain for a week. I’ve got a busy day of meetings tomorrow, including seeing Margaret Lydecker of Green Drinks NYC, Joan from Atlanta, and dialling in to the board meeting of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. Lots of good stuff happening. Stay tuned!
– On BBC Radio Four: Excess Baggage, this coming Saturday morning., 29th October. Available online or as a podcast.
– Making Waves in Colorado, 13th November