Elitism and Food

I have CSA boxes delivered to me, but also have the option of my weekly farmer’s market. I raise my own chickens. I compost. I have half a dozen fruit trees, which will be ripe for harvest later this summer. I have been growing and eating my own herbs, tomatoes, and lettuce.  I like to preserve my own lemons and make my own lemon curd. I homemake the granola I eat each morning for breakfast. I am a new owner of a Vitamix and enjoy fresh fruit and veggie smoothies. I am unabashedly proud/blessed/happy to live in a place where most of my food is grown in-state and within a ~300 mile radius of where I am. Thus by default, I shop local. And I acknowledge that it is an absolute blessing and privilege that not everyone enjoys. But to call the slow food movement elitist? It makes me pause. Our desire to return to a pre-industrialization, pre-processed, pre-packaged way of life – is that elitist? A desire to cook and prepare food the way our grandmothers did – is that elitist? I’m not sure. I acknowledge that cooking this way is not cheaper – a box of instant mac and cheese costs pennies, whereas homemade mac and cheese complete with roux, a variety of cheeses, and whole grain pasta – is easily 5 times the cost. A jug of Tropicana orange juice is way cheaper (and less time consuming), though not as delicious, than manually juicing 2 dozen California-grown navel oranges. But this is the way our grandmothers did it. This is how we are suppose to treat the bounty of the earth – this is how we respect the food. Thomas Keller (perhaps also guilty of being called an elitist) writes in the French Laundry Cookbook (probably the epitome of food elitism) that we must cook slowly and deliberately, “to fully engage ourselves in cooking, to regain the connection to food that we’ve lost in our craving for quick fixes, shortcuts and processed ingredients.” And yet I understand something – that I have the resources to do it the slow way. To do it the more expensive way. To do it the less convenient way. It is definitely an indulgence and requires conscientious decision making to make it a priority. But it is a personal choice, and not one that makes me scoff at Nabisco cookies or Kraft products (trust me – I have both brands in my pantry). So is it food elitism? I remain ambivalent, but this article from the New Republic did make me pause.


Less Than $4 Toast
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the insanely priced $4 toast here in SF (served at The Mill). It’s been the butt of late night talk shows and Internet memes, and just adds fuel to the elitist fire above. It is actually delicious. But I would much rather take that $4 and turn it into a savory sandwich – and this is it. A sandwich so easy, it doesn’t need a recipe. The best part – it’s all sourced right here.

pesto [Mine is homemade]
2 eggs, fried in olive oil to desired doneness
1 ripe Hass avocado
ripe heirloom tomato, sliced
sliced cheese (optional, but Gruyere would be amazing)
bread [I prefer a good Vietnamese baguette, but use what you like]
fleur de sel
fresh cracked pepper

Toast bread. Smother it with pesto. Add 2 slices of tomatoes. Lay on the avocado. Top with 2 eggs. Liberally sprinkle with cracked pepper and fleur de sel. Maybe add the slice of cheese. Close up the sandwich. Consume.


Eggsammy1Definitely enjoying all the flavors and textures in this sandwich. Sure, it’s pretty basic. But when your food is THIS fresh, why bother messing with it. The egg is fried in olive oil (almost like this), with a really crispy white and extra creamy yolk. The pesto still has some bite from the garlic, and is oh-so fragrant, having been picked just minutes before. The avocado adds creaminess, and the perfect foil to the sweet and tangy tomato that’s buried in all the green. I probably could have added some arugula to the mix too. Yum. If this is elitism, maybe I don’t mind being called elitist, after all.


David is off on a boar-hunting excursion, and I am left to figure out what to do in the event he does successfully bring home a 200+ pound sow. I’m thinking bolognese, stews and ragouts, beautiful BBQ ribs, braised shanks, chopped liver, and of course sausage. In the meantime, I’m shopping for a standalone freezer to hold all the meat that will come back from our butcher. Can’t wait to share more details!


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