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The Symbolic Meaning of Food

This time of year the sun's abrupt angle starts to feel harsh conjuring Fall and its hazy hot yellows. The quiet blanketed greens give way to a shock of color forewarning the inevitable arrival of winter cold. Somehow, it is the quality of the light that makes us think to pull out the sweaters and make sure the chimney is free of bird nests.

When I was a kid I loved this time of year because it meant back to school. Yes, I was one of those kids who thrived not only on the social aspect of schooling, but loved the challenge, so September made me quite eager to tackle the next grade.

However, my choice of profession (drum roll for those of you who don't already know... yep, TEACHER), incited a riot as I no longer adored Fall but rather wished it could hold off for a couple more months of freedom. Frankly, as a teacher, I found Summer and Fall quite depressing. I probably should have joined a profession where all you do is work, so not to experience the psychological ups and downs. That being said, here I am - restaurant owner and farmer - even worse...constant work times two!

Having had a health setback this summer - the install of a pacemaker has really made me aware of stamina and endurance. One month post surgery I am finally feeling a bit stronger, but the idea of kicking butt and working all day (coffee to couch) seems overwhelming, I get tired by 2:00 or 3:00! But, today I made it until after 7:00 before I really started to feel zonked! Got milk? Who needs it when you got stamina!

One of our neighbors who is in her 80s told me once, "Getting old sucks!" I would have to agree. I only wish somebody had reminded me that I was getting old...I wasn't aware of that fact! Now that I know that I am part of the "getting old crowd," I am super psyched to share any insider tips I may gain! Hold onto your hats, there may be a windstorm!

Besides facing the reality of getting old, I'm feeling a bit feisty. There are lots of things I let roll on by, but this week, I am irritated by aspects of the human condition - politics in general. Funny how a little food item causes me to get all riled up and concerned about things like human rights abuses, fascism, and the fact that humans don't seem to learn from their mistakes! It's not the Pupusa I can't get out of my mind, it's El Salvador and what we should know about that country.

Back in 1994 I traveled from my Peace Corps gig in Honduras across the border to El Salvador for a little visit. This was just after the end of their Civil War, just after their US backed military government murdered and disappeared hundreds of thousands of activists, peasants and teachers, after the assassination of Archbishop Romero (1980), and just after I had learned that American interests in the area were mostly responsible for the mess. Being from the U.S. in many parts of the world can be a very humbling experience once you understand our history. We are not as widely adored as we think we may be! I was young and bombastic traveling into a country that nearly and completely hated the United States, but what did I know?

If you're curious, I'd suggest you follow the advice of a bumpersticker I once saw that exclaimed "Read a Fu*%ing Book!" The history of El Salvador is powerful and poignant in terms of how it all may turn out if we're not careful here. It also explains why so many El Salvadorans are at our southern doorstep looking for asylum. Of course, with Mr. Google at our fingertips, no need to commit to an entire book to gain a little education and empathy.

Anyway, besides learning a bit about the incredible history of El Salvador, I of course, found a culinary concept to bring home with me. El Salvador has the PUPUSA - a funny name for a stuffed and toasted tortilla. Despite it's name, this Juicy Lucy of corn cakes is nothing to laugh about! Here ancient grains are filled with cheese, beans or meats, toasted, and it is only when you bite into it that you learn of its inner secrets! Not only is the stuffed corn cake a delight, but the cabbage "curtido" served alongside is wonderful! (Yep, you'll find it in the restaurant this weekend!)

Food can certainly be a vehicle for not only nutritive sustenance, but awareness and enlightenment as well.

The restaurant will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday for supper 5-8 and Lunch on Saturday 11:30-2. Remember to Google "Farmhouse World Kitchen" in Plum City to verify our hours.

And the farm store?

That's open daily 9-5 with a variety of farm fun - junk art, eggs, granola, potato soup, maple syrup, felted wool hats, and straw bales to start getting the gardens ready for winter...stop out for a visit to see it all.

I'm sending love from the farm, well wishes to all, and hopes that each of you is thinking of the larger world as you make your daily decisions. We're all in this together and much more connected than it seems.


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