Eating locally grown meats and produce may have become a trendy way to support the environment, but to Sur la Table and their author/chef, the very talented Janet Fletcher, it is reason to celebrate. Eating Local tells the stories of people whose lives are as vital as the food they produce, and gives recipes that extend that vitality to the consumer. The message within the book is to love the land, eat well, be vital in your own life. It is dedicated to "America's hardworking farmers who make eating locally possible."
The recipes are so enticing that the reader is inclined to jump straight past the photos and the text to rush to the kitchen to prepare a new dish. A little restraint is in order, however, to fully appreciate this book. Sara Remington's photography inspires with glorious shots of prepared food, but also with photos of hands working with produce, of tiny, brilliant plants sprouting in rich dark soil, of farm stands, kids at play, rows of healthy produce.
There are stories about ten farmers, spread across the U. S., each one a participating Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. CSA's are supported by subscription members who generally pay in the spring to share the bounty of the summer, a plan that aids small farmers, and puts fresh food in the kitchen. The names alone are entrancing: there are farms with such names as Full Belly Farm; Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm; Dancing Roots Farm; Golden Earthworm Organic Farm. Their stories thrill and inspire. Many of the dedicated farmers threw over successful city careers to be one with the land and find a more rewarding life. They all are open to children and visitors, and they are all committed to the organic way of life. The De Lane Community Farm located in Aurora, Colorado is non-profit, and aims to reconnect city people with the land that nourishes them. Their shareholders volunteer on the farm, and, to encourage do-it-yourselfers, DeLane offers sessions on beekeeping and honey harvesting, on composting and organic gardening.
While the consumers are privileged to enjoy the locally grown foods, the farmers themselves are celebrating earthworms, produce that is NOT uniform, and, of course, compost (one farmer uses ten thousand pounds per acre).
This is a cookbook, however, and one that advocates eating well while eating delicious, fresh food is the goal of the book.. Janet Fletcher, formerly of the celebrated Chez Panisse, has created recipes that allow ingredients to star. There are such wonderful recipes as Sicilian Spring Vegetable Stew; Pickled Yellow Wax Beans with Fresh Dill; Broccoli Rabe and Turnip Greens with Hot Pepper Vinegar; Grilled Eggplant Cannelloni with Ricotta and Prosciutto; Braised Chicken with Apple Cider, Tarragon, and Cream; Grilled Flank Steak with Old-Fashioned Creamed Spinach; Polenta with Chopped Broccoli and Pecorino; Carrot-Zucchini Bread with Candied Ginger; Heirloom Apple Tart with Almond Filling and Calvados Cream; Grilled Nectarines with Mascarpone Ice Cream and Crushed Amaretti.
The book is organized by ingredient to make seasonal eating easy. There is a hefty chapter for vegetables, a second for fruits, a third for poultry, meat, and eggs. This is a book to enjoy and savor.