Some people have a shopping problem, some struggle with a chocolate addiction, and still others nurse a coffee habit. Anthony and I have a local produce problem.
This love of local goodies is not that big a deal when we’re home. We know the little old ladies who make jam, we know the ex-businessman who raises honeybees, and we love the farmers who grow our CSA produce. We’ve got a pork guy, a beef guy, and a goat guy. We have yogurt, butter, and milk ladies. We know it’s okay to pick up our usual ingredients and occasionally succumb to those precious little peppers, that rare sour cherry jam, or that sinfully rich, farm-fresh chocolate milk.
But we also know we’re going to see these folks next week, so sometimes…it’s okay to pass. It’s hard, but it’s possible (and usually involves me physically dragging Anthony to the car). Most importantly, however, when we are home we have a place to store our little treasures.
When we go on vacation, though, this little produce problem becomes a big one. To start, our fridge is usually full of perishable goods juuuuust as we’re preparing to leave for two weeks. Emotionally and physically unable to let anything go to waste, we dutifully pack it all into a colossal cooler. We’re the only people I know who routinely travel with bunches of kale, enormous heads of cabbage, three-day-old leftovers, pieces of citrus, limp carrots from the crisper, and the entire contents of our cheese drawer.
And yes, it’s more than a little embarrassing to show up to a friend’s house for a few days with a tiny overnight bag and a behemoth blue and white Igloo. They usually forgive us, though, when we start pulling out ingredients—Mary Poppins-style—and whipping up a good meal.
We just got back from a 10-day trip from New Haven to New York to Pennsylvania to Ohio and back, lugging that enormous cooler the whole way. When we started it was chock-full and though we cooked and cooked and cooked, it was chock-full when we got home. Why? Because when we’re in East Podunkville, PA and we see a charming antique truck vending organic, homegrown produce we think (as our blood-pressure rises) “WE WILL NEVER BE HERE AGAIN! WE MUST SAMPLE THESE TOMATOES!!!!” And when we’re in West Nowhere, OH and we see a road-side cooler of eggs sold on the honor system, Anthony rips an illegal U-Turn and we are compelled to buy two dozen. I could go on, but Mom and Maggy might get more material for that intervention they must be planning.
When we lugged that cooler into our apartment last night and began unloading our newly purchased goods, I came upon a bag of cabbage that had traveled all 1,406 miles with us and hadn’t been used. We must have packed and unpacked it 10 times in the last 10 days. I was so sick of looking at it, that I decreed it had be dinner…TONIGHT! And it was. And it was SO SO good.