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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hunt and Gather

Above: Shoppers browse Salamanca Market in Hobart. Photo courtesy of The Mercury.

On the weekends I like to forage about for food. Not in a mid-week back of the pantry it-has-to-be-in-her-somewhere kind of way either.

I mostly spend my leisure time consuming, or planning what to consume next. I love cook books, cooking programs, recipes that come off the back of packets, and most of all, food magazines. Hunting around the local shops for the freshest vegetables, the cheapest this or that, my favorite sesame coated wholemeal Vienna loaf, this part is almost as enjoyable as the actual eating.

I adore wandering around fresh food markets, anywhere in the world. And I am delighted that my favorite veggie stall at the Saturday markets discounts all it's locally grown vegetables to half price later in the afternoon.

I even enjoy commercial supermarkets, although not so much the screaming children that frequent them.

Spending money on groceries is something that I've always been able to justify to myself, even back in my days of student poverty. If I only had $15 for a weeks worth of groceries, then the challenge was even more exciting, and required even more planning.

When you buy bread from the bakery, meat from the butcher and fruit and vegetables from the grocer it becomes quickly evident that shopping for locally produced ingredients can often be cheaper than buying everything from a major supermarket chain. This process is time consuming, and unappealing to the busy, but I really get a kick out of it. I often consider grocery shopping a great form of procrastination when something else must be done urgently. Like the 8000 word assignment which is resting comfortably in the back of my mind.

It is not always possible to buy locally, especially somewhere like Tasmania, where our climate is so cool we cannot grow some fruits and vegetables. But when you consider that the average bag of groceries has travelled the mileage equivalent of twice around the world before it gets to your house, maybe it is not such a bad idea to be more aware of where certain ingredients come from, especially when they are out of season. For both financial and environmental reasons.

This morning I had wholemeal toast (from by local bakery) with two poached eggs (Tasmanian free range) and Huon Valley mushrooms. This home grown meal was a complete fluke, or so I thought as I was eating my breakfast. But then, I had merely bought fresh and local. I think I might be on to something. A few more of those mushrooms are now in the oven, upside down an filled with feta, sun-dried tomatoes and herbs. The cheese is not Tasmanian, but that's okay, it was on special at Woolies for $1.77, and although I am a food purist, I'm also pretty broke. Who says you can't have the best of both worlds.

And on that note, what's for dinner?


Desmone007 said...

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Sapuche said...

Food foraging is a great weekend pastime for me, too, and I encourage you to consume as much as possible during your leisure time – and that includes recipe hunting and market browsing! Why? Simply because it’s nice to indulge yourself over food. There’s not a lot we can control in our lives, unfortunately, but what we eat and what we read are usually things we can. Given the fact that food has to travel so far to reach Tasmanian consumers, I’m really curious about what’s available to you there and how much it costs. (No worries; you don’t have to answer this!) I suppose the situation is similar in Hawaii, come to think of it. :)