For dinner I just ate two scrambled eggs with half the cholesterol and exponentially more vitamin E, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids than the eggs you ate for breakfast, unless of course you ate two organic eggs so fresh you had to pluck a feather from the carton along with your oval bits of nutritional heaven, like I did.
I only paid something like 60 more centimes for the label with the fermier sticker and the phrase elevee en plein air referring to the lucky free-range chickens that produced these jewels.
But! as someone who last year would have called herself (politically incorrect though it is) “poor” and this year is choosing the more cheery “temporarily-obligated-to-be-super-hyper-economical,” I have to admit I stood before the eggs and told myself, “maybe it would be just as good if I bought the regular free-range, non-organic, forty centimes cheaper than the organic ones but still a little more expensive than those that came from poor, abused, cooped-up chickens.” Maybe I could compromise?
Not this year. This year, I am buying organic chicken and organic eggs until the day I can’t afford them, and then, if I must, I will go without.
Also, since I am living in maybe the sole country on earth whose majority still demands (as in they will strike, so don’t tempt them) fresh, local foods and cherishes planning meals according to the seasons, I have been paying a whole lot more attention to buying local.
Monday I went to Intermarche with a recipe that called for Bosc pears. My mouth was watering at the memory of these sweet, crisp fruits with their distinctly thick, russet skin. In my happy anticipation, I didn’t even consider the idea that they could be Belgian immigrants here in a French supermarket. When I saw the traitorous sign above their pretty brown heads, my mind wandered to the many forms of transportation that were possibly involved in their journey from Belgium to Dijon. Planes, trains, and automobiles! They weren’t even immigrants, they were hostages, stolen from their country before they were ripe, forcibly waxed to preserve their viability, and thrown into tight quarters for the voyage before being exploited by French cooks and recipe-holding American ex-pats! With a sigh, I chose instead their French neighbors, shiny redheads that looked like they may have been the illegitimate daughters of the French Braeburn apples I had just bagged up.
I will also have you know that I have not bought a single mealy, orange, out-of-season tomato this winter. Which means I have not eaten a single fresh tomato (I said “fresh,” which naturally excludes tomato sauce, which I have had quite a bit of) since the season ended, which furthermore means that I am already counting the days ’til August.
To make up for the lack of tomatoes in my salads, I have added the perfectly in-season betterave, direct from France. This sugary purple root is so much fun to eat, possibly because it turns everything purple, including, I’ve heard, your pee, if you eat enough. I have been trying to distinguish just how many “enough” might be, but it hasn’t happened to me yet, and Google searches produce only limited suggestions based on height, weight, and so forth.
I’m only kidding, of course. About the Google part.
I always knew when I came to France I would have my own place and cook for myself. That’s the main reason I didn’t want to go back and live with my dear host mother, Josette again. I had basically had free-rein in her house, so independence wasn’t an issue, but the reins tightened up quickly in the kitchen, where Josette was the only one cracking the whip. (This is typical of French mothers, is it not?)
Moving on. I have my own place. I cook for myself. I’ve always been a health nut, but thanks to my birthday book from Kate — Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle — I have been inspired by an American to adopt more French habits. I may not speak exactly like they do, but I can give them a run for their money when it comes to eating fresh. My eggs are nutritional powerhouses. My market lettuce can’t be spared the occasional worm. My [chicken] breasts aren’t as artificial as Pam Anderson’s. My pears aren’t tanned Belgium beach bums.
They’re redheads. And they are wonderful.