Monday, October 6, 2008

A Tale of Two Stories

When you don't have an absorbing audiobook or aren't mentally rehearsing a sermon on the Sunday morning drive of course you turn to NPR.

Yesterday's show had two interesting food stories, especially when you take them together. One was about the Obamas' favorite restaurant in Chicago, Rick Bayless' flagship. Reporter Daniel Zwerdling clearly has a pretty narrow range - all Mexican food in the US is not TexMex - but he probably never has explored the slow food traditions in New Mexico or California, which include much more than Chili's and tacquerias.

You can find a recipe for Michelle's favorite steak tacos a la Rick on the NPR web site.

If you can afford the steak.

The other story was about a young couple who live in the Sacramento area and are caught between student loans and an 80/20 ARM on their house (which has declined in value in two years from $285,000 to <$150,000). They work three jobs between them, and have $200 left after fixed expenses at the end of the month. What do they eat? Rice, beans and multi-vitamins.

The young woman recalled her grandfather always having a pantry stocked with non-perishable foods. With a friend's generosity in the form of grocery gift cards she planned to stock up on meat and pantry items.

This at a time of year and in an area where produce abounds, and at far cheaper prices that we in vineyardland pay at farmers' markets and produce stands. I wanted to yell at the radio - please at least buy some California apples, onions, and winter squash - and maybe even some almonds.

And if you can hang onto the house, don't just sit in your backyard after working your two jobs - plant a garden.

I'm wondering if the chasm is widening between those who eat out at mid-high end places with some regularity, and those who don't eat out at all. And I'm wondering if the home arts of kitchen and garden will be rediscovered to make the most of what we can afford at the market. What would be truly wonderful - if eating in one another's homes became common again as a means of celebration.

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