July 5, 2009

Food and Nourishment

As we prepared to leave Totem, snug in a berth in San Carlos, and return to the states for the summer- a concerted effort was made to work through our food stores. Thus it was, scrounging in the depths of a locker not long ago, that I discovered a jar of Julie and Gloria’s homemade jam. A hidden gem, so unexpected - I thought these had been used up months ago. But there, winking up from the depths of a food storage locker, was the unmistakable quilted glass canning jar with “2008 – Raspberry”, labeled in Julie’s hand.

I can’t deny getting a little misty. Granted, I tend to obsess over food, so this discovery may have moved me more than the average person, but this little jar was a link to people I love and places I hold dear. It brought back a flood of memories, from blackberry picking on Eliza island with my cousins Claire and Bryn, to cooking cherries, blackberries and blueberries down to jam with my Heidi in Bellingham, to receiving the gift of this particular jar (and several of its brethren) last fall. It is pure goodness: raspberries, cooked down and sealed to store for months until it can be opened for a delicious off-season treat… or in our case, a treat impossible to reproduce or recreate in our tropical environment. It was rays of sun in a Ball jar.

Foraging in Baja bears no resemblance to the foraging I loved doing in the Northwest. I am tempted to try and recreate a few things from home, though. Perhaps I’ll try making prickly pear jam once we can collect the fruit. It will be fun, and possibly delicious, but it can’t evoke the feelings of the blackberry. One thing I know for sure, the canning cobwebs need to be dusted off before we cross to the south pacific next year: what we’ve heard about the prices of food! Hopefully I can expand my repertoire to canning meats, too.

Food preservation has been useful in Mexico for the shorter term, too. In April, at a La Paz grocery store we saw basil for the first time in months. I couldn’t let that by, and purchased everything I found (about five generous bunches). It was chopped, covered in olive oil, and kept in the refrigerator- and Voila! Two months of pasta and pesto, basil – bean salads, and other treats.

For the next two months, the crew of Totem is spending time in the US. We’re visiting friends and family, although we’ll miss out on our land based home in the Northwest. There are only so many miles of country you can traverse in a rental car… especially a Mercury Grand Marquis with 3 children in the back (let’s just say that our family is not the target market for this vehicle). I will be looking for sour cherries that need canning, directions to MI sources gratefully accepted.