Monday, January 14, 2008

Somebody SHOOT That Thing...

JAMES 'SUPER CHIKAN' JOHNSON is one of the reasons I'm eating only raw food...

Day One of the Daily Cocaine 21-Day raw-foods cleanse. Pictured below is the first dinner, a seaweed wrapped raw-foods bonanza. Since we'll be eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, it's making me miss the good old urban Farmers Market. Fresh produce, artisanally-produced cheeses, unpasteurized milk, heirloom pork, country-baked pies, yuppies and their golden retrievers, homeless guys asking for change, homemade soaps and candles, etc. And while I love to mingle with my neighbors on a quiet Saturday in the park, the market at Legion Park off Biscayne Blvd, which is near my neighborhood, is not a farmers market. 'Local' produce does not necessarily mean you are buying from a farmer. Farms sell to wholesalers who sell to vendors. This is the same 'local' produce that supermarkets sell, except that supermarkets (for obvious reasons), get the first pick. Which means the superior produce. Which is why you may find some 'buys' because for all intents and purposes, they may be 'seconds', or day-olds, or about-to-go-bads. The lack of understanding of how our food is grown, nurtured, harvested, and then sold to the public, especially by self-proclaimed 'foodies', is breathtaking. Which is why people are complaining all autumn about the lack of local produce at the market. In September, I asked Mr. Glaser of Glaser Organic Farms about this and he laughed. He told me he had fresh-picked okra, pomfrey, and mangoes. “I can live on that, but I don't think anyone else can,” said the raw foods eating vegan. (Yes, he eats raw okra, and I have to say I have tried some, and it was the best (non) preparation of okra I've ever had.)

My CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box, which is a half-share at $360/season, about $20/week, is just fine. I loved the arugula and radishes, but I'm fairly neutral on tatsoi. The food in the box has worked out okay, but I would rather pick what I want, not what someone else wants. I think it's a great introduction to organic food and the CSA philosophy, but I guarantee you at some point you will get tired of being required to go through someone else's choices for you, picking them up on the day they have chosen, and being prepared to cook or eat the stuff fairly quickly. The pickup's Saturday, a day I usually go out for dinner, and I don't cook much on Sunday, either. So everything's three days old right off the bat.

Back in 1992, I belonged to a CSA in Washington, DC. I used to drive out to the actual farm, east on Pennsylvania Ave. (yes, THAT Pennsylvania Ave.), to Prince George's County, where the farm was located. It was a quiet drive, and the farm was always great to see up over the long hilly driveway. I would say peaceful, but with the noise of the farm equipment, the bugs, the acrid smell of fresh cow manure, well, maybe peaceful is the right word. But the pickup was on Friday, and I worked weekends. Again, it was cool for one season. Try next year and judge for yourself.

As I begin my 21-Day raw-foods cleanse with my constant companion, I will look back concurrently on the recent road trip we took to Mississippi, through Memphis, Mobile, and New Orleans, along with Apalachicola and Cedar Key, both in Florida, if only to relive those great eating and drinking moments in my mind. We ate a lot of great food (mostly fried), including some amazing BBQ, and drank a lot (did I mention New Orleans?). Incredible music, of course, which was the reason for the trip to begin with. Let's start with Super Chikan, New Year's Eve, at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Somebody SHOOT that Thing!