After saying warm goodbyes to Walking J Farm, we settled in San Diego, CA for about a week or so. I feel a little underdressed in this part of the country (like Thoreau I am a little suspicious of any enterprise requiring new clothes, and am more comfortable in clothes with a few tears or stains) 98% of me likes quiet, peaceful places with lots of grass, trees and open sky.
But big cities, like San Diego, have one thing going for them. Local. Food. Variety. Big cities are a place where farmers in the surrounding area can bring their food and sell to a lot of people in one place, and there is generally the demand needed for good sale. We went to the Little Italy Farmer’s Market in downtown San Diego, Saturday. While feeding the parking meter and trying to keep all four kids on the sidewalk and not in the road, I overheard this casually dressed muscular man talking to a biker-looking-dude about how he had smoked his ham with such and such a method and spices, etc. I thought it was interesting that these two men cared enough about their meat to have a conversation about it on a Saturday morning. We continued down the sidewalk and it wasn’t long before my senses were overloaded. We came away with just a few of the offerings: chanterelle mushrooms, pea shoots, pepper spiced cheese curds, sourdough bread, raspberries, limes, oranges, dried pluots, golden raisins, dried bing cherries and apricots, garlic-parsley-pepper spread (to die for), pickled garlic, carrots, kale, bok choy, cabbage, celery, beets, fresh-squeezed orange juice…I could get used to a year round Creative bounty like this. Not to mention the street entertainment. Have you ever seen an accordion playing musician labeled “Smiling Jack” in a big box store? Or a drummer playing a full range of sounds on a wooden box? What live music is appropriate in Walmart? Only the kind of “canned” music that is being played across the whole of our country just as the same clothes are available from one Walmart to another, coast to coast. What I love about traveling is that each city, each region has it’s own treasures, diversity, tastes…when stewarded by the community. But when a commercial chain plops itself down and sets up shop, this diversity is lost to department headings of Women, Pharmacy, Toys, Housewares…made by who knows who. I offer you an alternative. Look your producer in the eye and see the passion for their product light their face. Juxtapose the fresh ideas of the farmers market against the corporate security of stale profit margins. See a one of a kind offering of individual creativity. Feel the love, eat the love.
So, I have realized this a few times before but it has made itself clearer in the last months… I am at my happiest showing my inner divinity creating in the kitchen. Cooking in a little Airstream kitchen has definitely not squelched this desire. This kitchen happiness is something we are taking into consideration as we think about what the future holds for making a livelihood.
I have come to anticipate new markets, the people that may be met and the new connections that will be made in our “web” of life. We have just made some new friends, Mike and Vesna, along with their three boys. They are a delightful, inspiring couple from Canada who sold it all and started traveling about three weeks ago. For their fun and heartening blog go to www.mudakiller.com We shared a couple of days with them before we had to move north, but will be doing our best to see them again in the near future as we are not too far away.
On another note, we did some touristy things, one of them was going to the world famous San Diego Zoo. We also took some of our farmer’s market bounty as a picnic to La Jolla Cove where the barking seals hang out near the tide pools and rocks.