I am one of those annoying people who proudly takes pictures of the food I’m about to consume, much to the chagrin of my dining companions. I feel like I’ve earned the right to take obnoxious foodie pics because I spent the better part of ten years totally disconnected from the food I was eating. During college and the ensuing years after, I subsisted on Starbuck’s caramel macchiatos with sugar-free vanilla syrup, Diet Coke, envelopes of instant oatmeal, Lean Cuisine, soy corn dogs, and Saltine crackers with American cheese and turkey. It’s a miracle I didn’t get scurvy.
In the last five years I have made major headway in my eating and shopping habits. I’m lucky to enjoy year-round farmers markets and a variety of community supported agriculture (CSA) opportunities in the area. For a while my partner and I were members of Local Harvest Delivery, which delivered produce boxes to our porch every other Saturday. It was a test of my patience to deal with things I’d never eaten, much less prepared. During our membership I was exposed to eating leeks, fennel, pea tendrils, pepino melons, guava, and cherimoya, along with other conventional fruits and vegetables. I had a lot of success making kale chips, salade Lyonnaise with frisée, and herbed spaghetti squash (fresh chives and lots of butter). There were also a few flop experiments–like that time I roasted beets and my cat stole one and ate the whole thing (and left streaks of pink beet juice all over the floor and not a spot on her), or the time I nearly lost a finger to my battle with a butternut squash, and let’s not even talk about the half-eaten produce that went bad before I could figure out how it should be prepared. After a solid run with a mixed vegetable and fruit box, we opted to go the easier route and switched to a fruit only box. While the fruit box was much easier to consume, I found I actually missed eating vegetables, even the weird ones. Now my partner hits up the Tuesday market after work, and I’m going to the newest one in town on Wednesdays.
In 2012 we joined Community Seafood, and according to their website, they “use a CSA-based model to help promote local retention of seafood harvested in the Santa Barbara channel.” During the course of our membership we’ve had black cod, white seabass, yellowtail, sheephead, opah, rockfish, king salmon, rock lobster, rock crab, ridgeback shrimp, and mussels. We’ve culled the internet and discovered some amazing hits like black cod with chili oil and fried garlic, but we’ve also regretted some preparations like the citrus and olive oil anchovies from last week. Fish nights at our house are always fun because we rarely repeat a dish (the exception being the above), so generally it’s like cooking by the seat of your pants.
I still indulge in too many coffee drinks, but I’ve curbed my processed food habit almost entirely. I don’t live under the misguided notion that eating fresh foods make me a better person, that I’m saving the planet, or even prolonging my life (because OMG vegetables with butter taste good!)–I just really like eating, and talking about food, and photographing it. Buying and eating local has taught me that you don’t have to do a whole lot to make things taste delicious when your product is good. Catch up with me here as I document Community Seafood nights and my spoils from farmers market.