Fall and winter remind me of my Grandmother’s cooking; the food I grew up on. Soul food.
I grew up in a Portuguese-Canadian household and the kitchen — like many homes — was the axis on which our household turned.
These seasons brought all sorts of fare to our table: wild game like turkey, rabbit, pheasant and moose; off cuts like pig tails and ears, cows tripe; salt cod in many forms; collard green and potato soup (called Caldo Verde, in Portuguese); fried pumpkin cake (pictured above).
Making something delicious when you have nothing is a common theme across all of the worlds great cuisines. Indeed, many great dishes come from peasant roots.
I believe human beings are hard-wired to have an emotional connection to food. The world over, food is a celebration of mankind overcoming adversity. Even in the first world, where many of us are fortunate enough to be far removed from the struggle to find enough to eat, we have in us the DNA of our ancestors who scratched and clawed their way to their next meal.
What I remember most about the earliest meals of my life is that they were made by people who loved me, there was hard work and long hours in the kitchen to make them and, of course, that they were delicious. During my apprenticeship at Eigensinn Farm, I rediscovered the correlation between effort and taste of a dish. Food just tastes better when it’s grown and prepared made by the hands of someone who cares.
If you’re like me, you’ll be spending much of your free time over the holiday season at the grocery store, market, in the field hunting and foraging and, of course, in the kitchen. Remember, all those hours of effort mean something to the quality of your dishes. More importantly, they mean something to the people who eat them.