Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eating Local Away from Home

I just polished off a delicious brunch, made mostly with local food. I may yet lick the plate.

Las Vegas,NM, where we're living for the next 10 days or so, is in the throes of a drought. Water restrictions have impacted the whole community and it is a topic of conversation with almost everyone I've met. Most people lament their brown lawn and dying flowers. Business people wish they could water the ornamentals to keep their storefronts looking nice. At the farmer's market a week ago, the egg vendor thought the pickings might be slim from produce farmers due to the water restrictions, and the fact that there just isn't water to irrigate. That could explain why he and one other farmer were the only two vendors that day.

I feel profoundly lucky that we have the acequia in Albuquerque to keep us irrigated and our garden and guerrilla  orchard thriving. That luxury does not exist here.

Despite the water issues, you can always rely on local plants to get by, especially what some might label "weeds." Since they are native, they are able to withstand the conditions of their geography and weather unfavorable conditions. Some people might loathe such weeds, but I think of them as delicious! At Saturday's market I purchased a large bunch of lamb's quarters, called quelites here. Lamb's quarters are a member of the goosefoot family and exist pretty much everywhere around the world. The goosefoot family even includes quinoa.

Without a toaster, I fried up some whole wheat bread from Sage Bakehouse in Santa Fe and topped it with quelites sauteed with garlic, onion, and shiitakes. On top of that I put two over medium eggs from some local hens. The eggs are ungraded and so beautiful in the carton: white, shades of brown and blue-green; different sizes all. A touch of salt and pepper gave it a little zing and boy, was it delicious!

I was still able to have a tasty meal with local ingredients even though things are not looking good water-wise. I think the quelites really made the dish and I plan to look for more at this afternoon's market. We might need to get used to eating the weeds, or at least change our thinking about them. If the water situation worsens, they may be one of the few greens we can cultivate/forage with which to fill our bellies.

For other weeds you can eat, you can go here or here

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