You may or may not have noticed how some of my self-imposed rules have unraveled slightly since the start of this Eat Local Challenge two weeks ago. How making my own whole wheat bread from local organic flour slowly morphed into buying baguettes made from less-than-whole wheat flour. How giving up chocolate for a month magically transformed into eating a large wheel of chocolate all by my lonesome.
This is not cheating, I’ve decided. It’s called evolution. Little by little, I’m finding out what the Eat Local Challenge means to me. And it’s not necessarily what I thought it meant at the outset.
At first, I figured, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right. Follow the letter of the law. Not just local food, but slow food. Back to basics, baby.
But, really, I’ve found it’s more about balance. Making everything from scratch has its benefits, but it’s also exhausting and not necessarily practical for most busy families. Also, it doesn’t help certain local businesses that try to make our lives easier. Like bakeries. And sausageries.
I may have mentioned my soft spot for sausages. I may even have gone so far as to suggest that a national holiday be named in their honor. Well, sausages were the source of one of my most contentious Eat Local dilemmas. Sure, I found sausages made by a nice local farm, but the label on the butcher-paper-wrapped links that read Hot Italian must have been referring to what happens when you place the Italian sausages into a preheated oven and not what happens when large quantities of spices are added to them during the grinding process. They weren't spicy at all. Or maybe the label meant that only hot Italians are allowed eat them. Clearly, I was out of line.
Anyway, the local farm sausages were delicious, but too mild. The Preschooler didn’t even raise an eyebrow. Meanwhile, my dear, dear DePasquale sausages being made the next town over with pork shipped in from Pennsylvania (and sometimes Canada) were being devoured by other people at an alarming rate.
I was insane with jealously, until I realized something. This is a case where it’s the skill of the artisan that is the focus. Only the DePasquales know the magic spells. Those spells are worth preserving. Presumably, they could apply said spells to any pork, from local to extraterrestrial. So, you see, it’s not always about the individual ingredients, but rather, I might argue, a local skill that yields an exceptional end product.
Perhaps more importantly, though, it’s about not letting those stinking Pennsylvanians (or Canadians) eat my sausages for THEIR Eat Local Challenge.
That’s the spirit.