One of the nice things about being here is that we feel a little closer to the land. We are surrounded by farm land, which is used primarily for vegetables, hay, and animals such as cows, sheep and horses. The fields are sometimes rectangular (-ish), but more often than not they look more randomly laid out, and the edges of the fields are typically hedgerows, high hedges that have obviously been around for a very, very, long time.
Property taxes are quite low here, so there’s rarely a need to sell land to pay the property taxes as there can be in the States, and therefore land tends to stay in the family rather than being sold at inter-generational milestones. Around the corner from us is a family whose daughter is in Nathaniel’s class at school, which has four generations living on the farm. Her great-grandmother runs the local vegetable stand, rain or shine, out of an old trailer. Onions, potatoes, tomatoes, calabrese (broccoli to you Yanks), winter melons, and cauliflower. All well priced, and all from local farmers somewhere between her stand and the next town of Rock. I love stopping in and shooting the breeze with her (ok, maybe not shooting the breeze, but we have swapped names). I picked up some lettuce the other day, 10p for that (that’s 16 cents to you Yanks), and it came with the root attached so that it didn’t dry out, and it was delicious to boot.
Another place that the Brits are a little closer to the land is in the meat department. First of all, they go to butcher shops, which have, as far as I can tell, all but disappeared in the States. We don’t eat red meat, but we do eat chicken and fish, and so we’ve been looking for things to eat that aren’t baked chicken every night. I went into a butcher shop in Wadebridge to inquire as to whether they had any ground turkey, or “mince turkey” in the local vernacular, so that we could make turkey lasagna. The butcher looked at me kind of funny and said no, they didn’t carry that. I then asked if they ever carried sausages that weren’t made of pork. He looked at me even funnier, and asked what particular ingredients I had in mind. I explained that we often had things like chicken-apple sausage, or thai-turkey sausage (you Californians know what I mean, like what you can get at Whole Foods). I watched his face as I tried to explain, and my voice tailed away as I realized he hadn’t the slightest idea what I was talking about.
As I turned to leave, the lady next to me, who was also looking at me a little funny, asked for her order. She first asked if he had any liver. He did, and he pulled out a large one and sliced four small slices off it (breakfast perhaps?). Then she asked if he had some nice kidneys. He leaned into the window and pulled out two kidneys, each about twice the size of a golf ball. I looked in the window, and noticed what looked like a side of ham with the pig’s legs and feet still attached. And the chicken legs were cut off just above the foot rather than at the joint. And then I saw the calf brains (or that’s what I guessed they were), and thought yes, things are a little closer to the land here.
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