Well, did you think I dropped off the face of the earth, folks? You could be forgiven if you did: I’ve been neglecting the BPC for a month now and I have Absolutely. No. Good. Reason. For it. Other than the fact that I can be a little stubborn sometimes, and I just haven’t been feeling very food-writey for the last few weeks, and therefore I have not pushed myself to snap out of it until now.
“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G. K. Chesterton
It has really been hot lately—in the mid-90’s—with still, thick air that sits close to your skin. While this may not seem so hot to those of you in the American South, or the Mediterranean, or the Tropics, here in my grandmother’s house it is stifling. There is no air conditioning, and only a few electric fans so old you worry as much about sparks as sweat.
I’ve had a stressful week. I won’t go into full details here, but suffice to say it involves being an absentee landlord dealing with money disputes and general high drama. At the same time, I have started a new summer job waiting tables in a fine dining restaurant. While I’m enjoying my new physical role, I haven’t quite broken in my feet to doing laps around a dining room 8 hours a night. It’s not the same as working in a cushy publishing office. My feet and I are tired.
You might assume that being a Southerner I grew up soaking last night’s cornbread in this morning’s cold buttermilk for breakfast, while Pa was already hard at work in the peanut fields. But the reality of my Georgia childhood was not that cliché. Despite the name of this blog, I haven’t had much experience with buttermilk. I grew up in the ‘burbs. We lived in a strip-mall wasteland, where I ate instant oatmeal from packets while my Dad sat in gridlock on his way to downtown Atlanta each day. My mother was from New Jersey, and the closest thing we had to buttermilk biscuits was Bis-quick.
I have mentioned to you before that I don’t grow plants, because I cannot bear their audacity: can you believe they expect to be watered and looked after, like, every day? I have planted seedlings and container gardens, bought hostas and spider plants, and even resorted to cacti (after everything else around me shriveled to dust), but no dice. It seems I can kill those too.
Like most 22-year-olds, when I was fresh out of college I had no idea what to do with my life. I wanted to travel, so I got into an RV with some friends and no money, and then quickly realized that no money wasn’t going to take me very far. When I got out of the RV in Tucson, Arizona, I started working in a gas pump nozzle factory. Yup. You heard me right.
When the Fella and I made the transition from home-owning-urban-professionals to crazy-couple-that-sleeps-in-their-car, we had to decide what to do with our entire houseful of stuff. Kitchen equipment, books, dishes, tools, books, old photos, birthday cards from Aunt Matilda, clothes, books—we just couldn’t fit it all into our little gypsy Chevy Suburban. We had to get serious about getting rid of things.
Expatriation is a strange thing. You love your adopted home and fit in completely, relishing the unexpected details of everyday life. The longer you settle in, the more foreign your birth place becomes. Eventually you can hardly remember what it felt like to be ‘home’ because ‘home’ has come to mean something new.
I am a terrible gardener. I kill every plant that comes into my life, quickly and decisively. Even so, each spring I start dreaming of a kitchen garden, imagining the wonderful heirloom tomatoes, fresh English peas, and summer squash I’ll have at the end of the season. I look forward to a glut of produce, and start planning preserves and chutneys and jams. I fast forward to an imaginary winter scene of me plucking a mason jar off the pantry shelf each night, making year-round use of my resources.