You know what is a sneaky staple in my house? Avocado. I go through at least two a week. Sometimes, it is as many as five.
Ostensibly, this post is not about that Southern import. It is about a savory galette that I made sometime ago with the vestiges of winter squash that I unearthed at the farmers' market. But, it is also about that luscious green fruit.
Since this blog is about being honest and real, I am going to admit it. No, I do not always eat what is "in season" or "local", as you can clearly see. Sometimes, I want to eat food that is nostalgic, like winter squash and okra. Food that is good for me and/or I like, even though it is not from the region, like avocados or quinoa. Food that makes no sense for the season, like a hearty 6 hour stew in Summer or a crisp bright salad in Winter.
And, guess what, I am ok with it. I am ok with my food cravings that need imports from distant countries expending several gallons of fossil fuel. I am ok because I am human, I love food and I respect the fact that there was a lot of energy that went to bringing it to my plate.
Food is an emotional thing, people! It may seem schizophrenic given my last post, but, the reality is this. I am a migrant to this city. Most people in NYC are immigrants of some sort. Which means we may have grown up (I certainly did) on a different diet and different variety of produce than is available even in NYC. So, we all learn to adapt to what we have here. But, once in a while, when we find something that was shackled only in memory and restricted to those few and far between times when you visit homeland, it is an guttural desire to have it. Thinking has no say. It is an emotional call.
Then there are other reasons. Health. A lot of us have abused our bodies for work or pleasure or mere indifference or even despair. But, we are becoming conscious now. Sometimes, what it takes to get back to normalcy cannot necessarily be captured by the buzz words. Recently, a blogger friend had a nasty accident that resulted in a broken femur. Recovery meant enabling the bone to heal through food that are good for that, at the cost of every jargon you have heard associated with food - seasonal, local, fair trade, organic, etc. No. The focus is on getting better and using available resources to do that.
Now, the avocado. It is not indigenous to the USA, even though it may be industrially grown in California now. Avocado trees were first planted in Florida in 1833 and then in California in 1856. It has been touted as the perfectly balanced fruit, rich in all the good stuff on USDA guidelines. So, its consumption has been on the uptrend especially after the restrictions for importing it were lifted in 1999. Yet, despite domestic production, the US is a net importer of the fruit from Central and South America due to increasing demand. So, bottom-line, if you eat avocados, you have no right to cry locavore! Even if you are from California, you have little idea where the fruit sold in your supermarket comes from.
Amidst the various cries and activism to way we consume food, is a lack of pragmatism that the world has changed, become globalized, has diverse immigrant influences, has strong lobbying forces, is industrialized and all of this will only continue to grow. Not all of it is bad. Taking away choices and painting doomsday stories is not going to make people feel close to the issues.
I feel that all this food vigilance is polarizing people and alienating them. It is restrictive and claustrophobic. It also pushes away many, as it all seems so cult-like. It is unrealistic to expect people to eat just what the land around them can grow, which, in some places can be precious little. Besides, if you like a certain food and you are asked to give it up voluntarily, I doubt that is going to be easy unless there is a personal medical or fanatical push for it.
It is true that eating in season and local is good value. I also believe that it is important to bend and indulge a little bit. Humans are not meant to be continuously bound by rules as history and the present day evidences.
We have choices and they only grow every day. I believe in being aware of and making conscious choice while respecting the food wherever it comes from and those grow it for us.
With that I leave you with a recipe for a Kale and Roasted Squash Galette best had with a side of fresh avocado seasoned with sea salt and lots of lemon juice.
Kale and Roasted Kuri Squash Galette
1 recipe tart crust dough
1 cup, blanched kale, chopped (or other greens like mustard greens)
1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1 cup flesh of roasted Kuri squash (you can sub with any other squash or leftover sweet potato mash)
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1 tsp ground turmeric
melted butter for brushing
salt and pepper as needed
Pre-heat oven to 375F.
Whisk together the eggs, sour cream, spices and seasoning.
On a well floured surface roll out the tart dough into a rough circle of about 1/8 inch thickness. Fold into quarter and gently transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Spread the blanched greens on the base leaving about 1.5 inch border. Sprinkle the roasted squash on this layer.
Fold the edges of the tart over the filling to create a pan shape. Pour the liquid into this. Jiggle it a bit so it spreads evenly.
Brush the exposed crust edges with melted butter and bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden and the filling has set.
Cool on rack for a few minutes and serve.