It’s easy to take fresh food for granted, until it becomes a rarity. While living in the remote arctic any morsel of fresh food was scarce, and when available it came with an unattainably hefty price tag. How I came away from those years without some sort of malnutrition is a wonder, existing on a diet of canned, dried and frozen food. Like powdered potatoes and milk (the nastiest), tang, canned green bean, endless cans of Campbell’s bean with bacon soup and even fried spam. Not a fresh banana, apple, orange, bit of broccoli or leaf of lettuce to be seen anywhere near our kitchen.
To be offered a serving of recently grown fruits or vegetables was a memorable treat to be savored and that is exactly why decades later I still recall the dinner a friend of the family prepared for us one holiday season. Arriving at her tiny home a few doors down the street, stepping into the warmth from the frigid cold, the most amazing aroma greeted us: the earthy scent of potatoes baking in the oven! And then I spied a large bowl of fresh greens sitting in the middle of the table. I was so impressed. Funny thinking back that items from the everyday would be the stuff to make my eyes bug out of my head. Right? Sitting down to be served, I looked down to see a gigantic baked potato dripping with butter and a large serving of salad, along with whatever meat was on the menu, but that was not the worthy element of this meal. After grace it was nearly impossible to resist gulping down the utter deliciousness without taking a pause to breathe, but knowing another such meal was probably not anywhere on the horizon I forced myself to savor each bite with precious deliberation.
The only times that topped this rare holiday dinner were meals of amazingness that greeted us every two summers when we’d leave the far north to visit grandparents in the “lower 48.” Talk about heaven. A refrigerator stocked with fresh whole milk, clusters of tart green grapes, strawberries, fresh orange juice, ice cream, my grandmother’s freshly made soup… such splendor! And my sweet grandmother served it all up with such love and generosity, happy we were so happy and appreciative.
Oh food, glorious fresh food. Don’t take it for granted.