I put together a quick egg and lemon soup while Robyn photographed snow falling, dusting the evergreen branches. I thought about how local the ingredients were:
Local: eggs, lemon and cilantro, goat meat (Grass Valley and Oroville).
Not local: coconut oil, salt and chicken broth (all west coast of North America, though). In future I’ll make local broth from bones stashed in the freezer — from northern California chicken, beef and goat.
That led me to think of local and indigenous food. The Maidu/Nisenan peoples who once lived in this meadow probably migrated downslope to the Central Valley each winter, packing dried acorns and salmon and venison for the trip. I imagine (but haven’t researched) that in the Valley they’d fish in the Delta, and trap or hunt the sky-darkening flocks of migratory waterfowl and local elk — now mostly gone because civilized humans changed the landscape for agriculture, like building levees which prevent the great flooding of the Valley where the waterfowl wintered over.
The indigenous people used many plants for food, medicine and raw materials. A friend just gave me Living Wild: Gardening, Cooking and Healing with Native Plants of the Sierra Nevada by local authors Alicia Funk of the Living Wild Project and landscape architect Karin Kaufman. This beautifully-designed book shines with loving care and attention to detail. It’s lavishly illustrated with photographs identifying each plant: how to grow it, how it’s used. There are tips on collecting and preserving foods (now I know how to get the wickedly sharp spines off of gooseberries), plus a range of recipes using wild edibles along with familiar ingredients.
The indigenous apothecary is here, too. This contemporary and practical resource preserves native wisdom and entices us to reconnect with the natural beauty and bounty of this unique place on the planet.
So perhaps in fall I’ll make “chocolate marzipan with oak nuts” using freshly-ground acorns. Some ingredients local, some not, just like today’s snowy day soup.