Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Time, Meats, and all that's tasty

Time: so illusive yet so obviously present. It is the function of time, what in fact is it's essence, which is fought against every step of the way, by structures of modernity. Maladapted to much of our culture, time is too often bent, narled, and blugeoned to obey the will of the market; of capitalism's need to gain more out of an hour than in fact exists in an hour. But like anything subject to distention or exagerated physical trauma, a breakdown or tear will inevitably form. Imbalance begets balance via structural flux.

This topic of time is integral to the essence of artisan style farming; if farming may be called artisinal, which I belive it can. Without large chunks of time, much of what is done at the farm here would not be possible. The farm eats up time in a fashion anyone involved recognizes. It's a visceral feeling of time being absorbed, while at the same time absorbing, what the farm is developing; whether it be a Black From Tula tomato sucking up time while it ripens to a deep blackish/red hue or a head of Romanesco Broccoli passing time right up into Winter snow, developing its sweet flavor. Just try and speed up the process, try and stunt the time such wonderous acts of development take, and all goes wrong; time gets displaced and the tomato or broccoli suffers, withdrawing into artisnal mediocrity.

When we make pancetta, a type of cured meat made from the pork belly, it must be aged. It hangs in a cool aging room with a certain maount of humidity for just over a month. Not given such time, the taste will not develop. Time, in a most physical way, imparts its mark on the pancetta. In a sense, the farm asks that time be present and leave its mark, reveal its je ne sais qua, on the meat. This is put into stark contrast witn commercial types of pancetta or other such cured meats. In commercialized food production, time is expensive; no one may ask of its use freely; only at a cost. So, it is used rather sparingly and at graat cost. A ham that should be sitting in brine, whiling away the days, absoring the salty, somewhat sweet liquid mixture which transforms the basic fresh cut into something quite special, is spirited away from time. Instead, the ham is pumped full of brine resulting in an almost instant cure. But, are the two hams, the one time held for weeks and months or, the ham outside of the grasp of time, equal? Interestingly, the "market" sees such differnces in the two. The "market" excpects most people will not worry about how much time one ham or another took to be ready for the market. As long as such ham can be sold at a price perhaps half of its bretheren which used up perhaps over two months time in development, all is well on supermarket row. In such a light the typical buyer of a ham purchases the time-strapped ham at a bargain price, enabling the quantity of the purchase to be larger than perhaps prudent.

When one eats a piece of ham from here at the farm, the tastes, the essence, which makes up the ham, is intense. Though one can in fact eat generously from the ham, the meat satisfies one's urge to eat rather quickly. I believe this is, in part, time's effect on the ham. The ham has taken from time that which allows the full development and expression of the ham. Compacted within the marvelously tasting food is time, as not only taste but also as fullfillment. The eating of the ham transports not only fuel into the body but the accumulated time as rich and developed essence of ham taste. As such, it is not easy to devour quantities of ham from the farm; it is overwhelmingly rich.

We are eliminating time, eliminating essences, out of our food. We worry about price, and assent to the wisdom of the market that time is to be done without, not needed, superfluous. We remove this precious commidity, time, as much as possible, from our food, and question why we eat more and more, never feeling satisfied, never sated. Can we afford the time to eat slowly? Prior to the 1970s the average family felt the need to take time to eat food which was made with time. Families spent over 25-30% of their income on food. Today, that percentage has dropped to around 12%. Yes, time is expensive. And, so is the three to four hours a day spent in front of the cable TV-at $65 a month--expensive. Is time spent watching tv a bargain?

Where one's attention lays, so there lays one's dreams. Where one's time is used, there resides one's essence. Peace, or war; smile, or frown, hurt, or heal, where does attention get applied? How do we use time? Until next time. Blessings and Peace :)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an amazingly beautiful ham, Mark! I can almost taste it :) Love the idea of the investment of time being well worth the energy spent. This goes for food as well other important things like family and friends and wine, don't forget wine. Thoroughly enjoying your blog. Keep up the insightful writing. Pooniel

March 26, 2009 1:39 PM  

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