Monday, June 15, 2009

"The Food Mobsters Salad"

We walked swiftly up to the counter in the pizza restaurant and ordered a pizza and a salad each. The greasy faced man sporting an outfit of shapes and colors designed especially by marketing teams to leave a brand on your subliminal psyche said, “that will be ready and I will bring it to you in less than 5 min”. For some reason, I noticed my heart sink at his words. We sat at the aluminum table outside, and tried not to make conversation, knowing full well that soon the conversation would be interrupted by food, and then the food would need to be consumed quickly in the interest of freeing up our table. Nobody in particular was directing us to hurry, just invisible guidance of fast food culture where the origins of your food are anonymous, the flavor is irrelevant, and the macro nutrient profile is designed to create an insatiable desire for more.

Where there is guidance, there is rebellion. Sprouting up around local co-ops and farmers markets a counter movement has appeared. The new generation of would be hippies, punk rockers, or gangsters are busy planting gardens, picking berries, and involving themselves in the local meat trade. Everyone, it seems, “has a guy” and can “hook you up” with some sort of local food. We ran into an old friend of Christina’s whom she hadn’t seen in years. After taking a few minutes to deliver the details of his life, he leaned in to tell us about his real life's news. He had found a raw milk connection and he had offered to have his house be the drop off site. He had a twinkle in is eye, as if he believed his connection to something as coveted and unobtainable as raw milk elevated his rank in the food mafia. His real news is that he had become a "made man". He pulled a card out of his suit pocket and slipped it into my hand as though he was confident I would be calling.
Recently I walked out of a Starbucks coffee shop with a giant Alaskan fish wrapped in brown paper, and was followed by a gang of greedy eyes and a few rushed inquiries about the source of my connection. The friend that hooked me up with the fish invited us to a dinner party with some local chiropractors. The chiropractors, it seemed, were plagued by a long list of food sensitivities, which drove them to unplug themselves from the mainstream food line and go scavenging for alternative sources of nourishment. They offered us the best chicken connection in the twin cities.
How does one find these food bandits? Many of them can be found haunting local co-ops with one pant cuff rolled up wearing a bike messenger hat. Most of my food “guys”, however, wear street clothes and deal “on the side”. Like bootleggers during the prohibition era they are normal people forced into this underground food mafia by their refusal to accept the social standard.

Miso-ginger dressing:
1 clove garlic
1 silver dollar sized chunk ginger
3 Tbsp olive oil
½ Tbsp rice vinegar
½ lemon juice
1 tsp miso
1 tsp honey
2 Tbsp water
pinch of salt
Heat the water to a simmer and remove from heat. Add the garlic and miso and stir until dissolved. Add to Cuisinart or mini blender and blend with remaining ingredients.

Toss together: diced fennel, diced red pepper (we actually recommend you omit the red pepper), local mixed greens and local mushrooms. Make sure you add at least one ingredient obtained from a local food gangster.

Christina's vote: "omit the red pepper"

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