It was HiFi’s fault, although I didn’t realize that until years later. HiFi was a steer. My Dad bought him to raise for beef. He did end up as beef, but before that, he but took my Dad on a lot of early morning adventures before work, catching HiFi after he broke out of our pasture yet again. He was loud, which was why my Mom named him HiFi, short for High Fidelity. (It was the early 1960s. Mom was modern.) I remember standing in the driveway watching when the butcher truck backed up to the back fence. HiFi wanted nothing to do with that truck. It smelled like death. But he was eventually coaxed and then pulled in. And when he came home, he was dinner!
That sounds harsh. Maybe it is. But it was my first experience with the glory of local, fresh beef. I forgot about how delicious HiFi was until I tasted fresh beef again a few years ago. He taught me my first food lesson. Fresh and local is yummy.
Then, there were the eggs. I grew up in a rural area in a very verdant valley surrounded by mountains. I remember the first time my Mom let me ride my bike to buy eggs. We always bought fresh eggs from a farm about a half mile from our house. I was about 9, and proud to ride my bike. I am absolutely sure Mom had every single mother who lived along that route check for me going and coming. I can imagine them on the telephone shared party line: “Kathy just crossed Country Lane, she’s at the egg farm, now she’s on her way back, she’s at the cross road at Pulver Road.”
And salmon. There just isn’t anything better than fresh King Salmon caught in the cold rivers of Alaska or on the salmon ladders in northwest Washington. We used to buy salmon from the Indian Reservation where the Indians were allowed to net the salmon on the ladders. And, my uncles used to go to Alaska to fish in the rivers.
My Dad used to grow tomatoes and eggplant and peppers in his garden. My Grandmother grew vegetables. My uncle was a farmer, growing strawberries and beans. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to eat such amazing, fresh, local food.
When I was 10, we moved to California. It was the mid -1960s and “modern families” ate packaged and frozen food. It was the “thing”. Since my Mom was more interested in art and books than in cooking, she embraced this new and easy way of feeding her family. Food became boring, too salty, too sweet, and just not interesting.
And then I grew up, went to college, married, had kids, started a career, and moved to Petaluma. And rediscovered fresh, local food. Now, I have a vegetable garden and a small flock of chickens. I remembered how good eggs taste, how good fresh beef tastes, how good fresh fish tastes, how good fresh produce tastes. I know I am lucky to live in an area where we have so much abundance. My taste buds appreciate it. My heart appreciates it. My soul appreciates it.