Food MusingsFeb 4th, 2011 | By Cecilia | Category: blog
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting with Elizabeth Winslow of Farmhouse Delivery and Martineau & Bird at her Tarrytown home. As we sipped chai tea (she served mine in a charming, old-fashioned cup and saucer) in her comfortable, light-filled living room, our conversation meandered down many paths, always returning to food—local food.
I asked her if she thought the growing number of dining events featuring local foods might eventually become a kind of white noise among the general public.
After all, it’s often the same people who attend these events from week to week—the ones already “sold” on local products, or who proudly assume the moniker of locavore, or just like to be in the midst of the latest trend or good time. If those of us who are advocates of local food truly desire to support our nearby producers and ensure more people experience the freshest, least altered agricultural products from within a 100 to 200 mile radius—is this really the best way to go about it?
Neither of us had an answer. In the end, though, we agreed these dining events probably do draw new people to them from time to time, and from those new few, some may become passionate supporters of their foodshed.
How bad can that be?
Elizabeth wondered what the “next big thing” in food—local or otherwise—might be, confessing that she is personally “over” pork. It seemed as though people across the country, and certainly in Austin, Texas, freely gave their hearts, minds and palates to pig last year. Restaurants and trailers everywhere offered their take on pork belly and not all of it good, in my opinion. I ate enough poorly prepared porcine paunches in 2010 to last the rest of my days.
Sausages, pulled pork and bacon also topped the list of hog wild consumption last year, and remain a strong presence on the gustatory radar in early 2011. The desire for better bacon even spurred some folks to become “bacon outlaws’ making and selling this unctuous edible under the radar of the health department.
Or so I’ve heard.
So what is the next “it” food trend? Again, we didn’t have any answers at the time we met, but after giving it some thought, I suspect we might see rabbit turning up on more plates than usual in the months ahead–it’s already started.
Rabbit is a lean and delicious protein that’s currently underutilized. Over the last couple of years I have seen more references to rabbit in the food media, as well as seeing it pop up on menus in town. The recently opened Trace restaurant in the W Hotel downtown, for example, offers a rabbit club sandwich and a rabbit pot pie.
Sebastian from Countryside Farms, who raises rabbits commercially, told me there’s been more demand of late from the public and from chefs, and so he is building his herd, “But it takes time,” he told me. Which struck me as funny since we were talking about rabbits.
Beyond rabbit, I believe the current state of our economy will see an increase in 2011 in the number of families and individuals growing their own food, raising chickens, and cooking at home instead of dining out. Although, in Austin, with its ever-expanding (and I don’t mean waistlines) legion of dining devotees, our restaurant scene can expect to remain robust.
Whether you follow trends or blaze your own trail, take time to consider where your food comes from, and how you want to feed yourself, your family and your friends. If you can’t name at least one farmer or rancher or food artisan responsible for what you’re consuming, then chances it’s food that’s too far afield.