Joseph Campbell writes, “In the earliest rites associated with plant foods, the typical underlying myth is of a deity who has been killed, cut up and buried; and out of those parts of the deity comes the plant food. The meditation is that we are eating divine substance and this divine substance is what is feeding us; that our life is supported by the giving and yielding of some transcendent power” http://dcsymbols.com/theater/circumambulation.htm
America has lost is mythological mojo. This is especially apparent where food is concerned. Mythology and food rites have been a part of every culture’s mythology, except American culture. We have been stripped of our physical connection to food. It seems it can’t be purchased unless it’s sanitized, pasteurized and wrapped in plastic. We hear about food rites all the time from other religions, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism – where fasting and the idea of food as mana or taboo is still prevalent. Even in the Catholic church the Eucharistic is a recognition of divinity through gastronomy. Well, yeah. I wouldn’t exactly call communion wafers a gastronomical treat and the wine is usually not the best vintage, but it’s the thought that counts.
We have food holidays and holidays that have particular menus – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, the 4th of July – but even these have been commercialized. It is no longer a savory sacriment. If we have any mythology at all it is a McDonald’s Mythology. Think about it, we even call it ‘The golden Arches’.
So, how do we re-connect our food with our lives? With life in general? I believe you can start by getting out of the grocery store. Our food has meaning when we experience the processes of life and death, of eating and being eaten. (I’m not actually recommending being eaten.) My most memorable experiences with food are of collecting oysters on the beach, of when our family friend has success at his passion of hunting, when my neighbors dog killed a bunny and instead of throwing it away they cooked it up for dinner, when I could graze all summer in my grandpa’s garden and I help him pick black berries for his black berry wine.
Here are a few seafood recipes and a desert recipe made with local ingredients. If you cannot get your shelfish yourself go to the Olympia Seafood Company at 411 Columbia Street Northwest Olympia, WA 98501 Tel: 360-570-8816 or to the Olympia Farmer’s Market at the end of Capitol Way.
Oysters on the Half Shell
This is an easy little treat. Grilled is generally the best, but if it’s raining out side you can always steam them. I like smaller oysters myself. So, toss your oysters on the grill and cook them until they start to open. It’s best to keep them covered as they cook faster. In the mean time, melt your butter. In a small cup mix about 1/3 cup of butter to two shot glasses of beer. When your oysters are done, pry off the top shell and squeeze a little lemon on top. Slap them all on a plate and serve with your butter beer for dipping.
Also easy – steam them. Open them. Sprinkle them with lemon and cilantro. Dip them in Armando’s Andean Cilantro Garlic Sauce. (Available at the Farmer’s Market and the Olympia Co-Op.)
Apple and Rhubarb Crisp
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardmon
- 3-4 slices of fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/4 cup butter