Who would have known? There I was, sitting with a fellow Real Time Farms Food Warrior in the middle of an urban farm (blog to come!) overlooking downtown Atlanta on an unseasonably warm day, listening to her describe her favorite dish, which you guessed it, includes home-raised rabbits. I thought to myself ‘there is nothing more local than that’. Then I thought that she is hard-core. There is no way I could raise rabbits (I have enough to handle with my two obnoxious dogs), let alone pick which fur ball deserves the honor of joining the German Thuringian Dumplings dish…wait a minute, that sounds delicious…I hope she cooks this when we have our pot luck…
Connie Horne originates from Germany and she wants to get more acquainted with the local food system in Atlanta. She has a ‘thing’ for the lettuce from PodPonics, describing it as ‘soft, velvety, melt in your mouth…different to ground grown lettuce…’. By this point I am realizing that we both have a ‘thing’ for good food, the kind that makes you feel like you’re a teenager staring up at your Johnny Depp poster hanging in your bedroom. The beauty of good food is it’s a lot easier to access than Johnny Depp. PodPonics sell their ‘velvety’ lettuce at the Piedmont Park Green Market, which is every Saturday morning, easy to go get your fix.
Connie and I share another ‘thing’. We are both first time moms, in fact her son is about a month younger than mine, so the idea of being a Food Warrior makes sense to us. Our boys come first, and we needed to find an opportunity in line with our food interests and our schedules, or should I say the little ones’ schedules. So she looked up opportunities at Good Food Jobs and before she knew it, she was sitting with me having a chat about our food interests. And yes, both our boys were in tow. She thinks that we couldn’t more selfish. Doing an internship concerning our great city and its incredible food, with our boys, enjoying fresh air, good food and conversing with the good folks who grow it and make it. Call it selfish, a dream come true, lucky…regardless, Atlanta deserves to get on the food map.
She agrees. She looks at Atlanta and sees a food fusion emerging and evolving. To her, the Buford Highway ethnic food scene is being increasingly encapsulated in city menus. There is a shift from faux to authentic, obvious as restaurants scramble to find local, seasonal items to add to their menus. Eaters want real. They want it simple. Stop all the sauces. Connie wants to know ‘What’s in this?’. I want to know too.
A few of her favorite eateries? Top Flr, Ria’s Blue Bird, and Sauced to name a few. She goes on to describe Mi Barrio, Mexican with vegetarian options, family owned, you get the feeling you have been invited into their living room each time you go there. My ears are perking up. I’m useless remembering names, but Mexican restaurants that double-up as living rooms are hard to forget. I do some research and realize it’s where we have gone for the last couple of years to celebrate Cinco de Mayo… clearly their margaritas obliterate memory.
I give her a minute to consider some differences between the food scene here and in Germany. Being an immigrant myself, I love connecting with transplants. Whether you’re from California or another country, I always want to know what commonalities and differences exist in the experience of food. After all, food is our common ground. We all have to eat, but how we do it and what we choose is a fascinating study of our values, beliefs and culture. She chimes in. She describes how the food choices here are overly abundant, often leading to wastefulness. You can get anything, made from tones of corporatized ingredients, and it’s just too much sometimes. Her desire for authenticity and simplicity continues to resonate, but she is describing something else here. Transparency. Too much of anything fogs what’s real. After all, in the world of food, quality rules, quantity diminishes this. I couldn’t agree more. I look at the tatsoi growing and am imagining a little olive oil, a little garlic, a touch of red wine vinegar. That’s it, that’s all it takes. The rest of the flavor rests in the product harvested that day.
I ask for 3 words to describe the food scene here in Atlanta. She comes up with the goods, and I am smiling. We have connected. I think we’re going to get on just fine.
Seasonal, intergenerational, unlimited.
Wherever you are, find your 3 words and pursue them.
Jess Avasthi, Real Time Farms Food Warrior, Winter 2012, Keeping Food Real