EARTH DAY WEEKEND—THE POTLUCK

A busy but oh-so-good Earth Day weekend. So busy that I’m going to devote two separate posts to the weekend—one post for the Winthrop Green Committee’s potluck and the other for the festive birthday weekend we hosted for our daughter Shannon.

In short, the potluck, held at Winthrop High School, was a smashing success. Lots of very good food and much of it from local sources, which is a challenge in April, when fresh, local veggies are far and few between. Among other things, we had salads made from greens grown in a cold frame; deviled eggs and a quiche made with local eggs; local strawberries—frozen and thawed, of course—for dessert; ice cream made from local milk; mashed potatoes with goat cheese; chili made with local beef, sausage, and kidney beans; and pasta and cheese made with local butter, milk, and cheese.

Truly, it was inspiring to see what could be made from food that was available from Maine.

Equally good was the conversation, much of which revolved around food. (No surprise!) One topic was how food likes and dislikes were often a matter of taste, and I told of two foods—cilantro and goat cheese—that I initially didn’t like at all but have come to love. How does that happen? How do you go from not liking a food to loving it so much that you crave it? A curious process that shows just how mutable taste can be. Initially, I had the common complaint about cilantro—too soapy, too strong—but I kept eating it because I am of the firm opinion that food fussiness belongs to children, not to adults. Suddenly, something clicked, and I became absolutely besotted with cilantro, using it in foods whenever I could. The same thing is true with goat cheese, which tasted too “goaty” to me. (A silly description, I know.) But as I did with cilantro, I kept eating goat cheese, and now when I am served goat cheese and crackers, I am as greedy an eater as the next person.

Another topic we discussed: Could Winthrop feed itself? The answer was yes and no. Right now, Winthrop does not produce enough food to feed its 6,000 people, and as Farmer Kev has discovered, finding open land for farming in Winthrop is not easy. However, Anne Trenholm, from Wholesome Holmstead, observed that once upon a time, Winthrop had little mills and factories where food was processed. So it is possible, but it would require a lot of planning and very mindful use of land.

As the price of oil goes up, will we return to local plants that grind, freeze, and can food? It’s my guess that we will.

We also talked about having another local food event, perhaps in the fall, to coincide with the harvest. I hope we do. I just love these local food potlucks.

Finally, special thanks must go to Steve Knight, fellow “green bean,” scrounge extraordinaire, and Winthrop High School teacher. Not only did Steve unlock the high school for us, but he also brought table clothes and reusable utensils and plates for people to use. After the dinner was done, he took the plates and utensils back home to be washed.

Many thanks, Steve!

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