The Flexitarian Table

12.26.2007 12:00AM

Keeping It Local — Even in the Dead of Winter

Somehow the cold weather brings out the local in me.

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By Peter Berley

Somehow the cold weather brings out the local in me, why? Maybe it’s because during the cold weather my body contracts. I go into a psychic huddle of sorts. My energies draw down, deep within me to the very core of my genetic reserves. And even though climate change is real and surrounds each and every one of us everywhere, still our bodies, hearts and minds have not yet absorbed this.

As the sun retreats earlier and earlier I am drawn to the hearth, the warmth and comfort of my down quilts. I am especially conscious as never before of my consumption of fossil fuels — how much I heat my home, how long I allow myself to luxuriate in the heat of a shower. Even how and for how long I allow my meals to cook, comes loaded with a somber sense of thrift.

So, we stay close to our loved ones and we think of, and long deeply for, those that are far away or passed on. In the winter we feel the pull of our strongest attachments. In the cold, clear starlight, we crave to be with the ones we love.

Our world is crystalline, watery, chilly, and we drift and dream on subliminal currents that draw us back further and further, deep into the lands and dreams of our ancestors. I sleep more in the winter.

What feels so good to me now, what fortifies me and keeps the pilot light of hope within me lit, is a good old-fashioned potluck holiday party!

Next week I'm having 16 friends over to celebrate, be together, raise a glass, and pull together as much love and care as we can muster. Everyone is bringing a dish. We will adorn our home with local greenery, and bath it in the warm glow of beeswax candles.

Here is how our spread is shaping up. As host I'm making braised Codfish with Spicy Rouille and Aioli sauces, and Sourdough Garlic Bread. That’s my platform. I asked each guest to pick from the following categories of dishes to bring:

Hors d'oeuvres

Side dishes:
Cooked Greens
Root Vegetables
Raw Winter Salad
Pickled Vegetables




Here’s how the menu's shaping up:

Long Island Oysters on the Half Shell with Horseradish Cocktail Sauce
Authentic Swedish Meatballs (from Amy, my Scandinavian friend)
Braised Kale with Garlic and Smoked Heirloom Bacon
Peruvian Potato Casserole
Stuffed Cabbage Filled with Tofu and Mushrooms
Roasted Turnips, Carrots and Parsnips
Pickled Beets
Shaved Winter Vegetable Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Local Farmstead Cheeses
Apple Pie and Homemade Cinnamon Ice Cream

Peter Berley
Peter Berley Flexitarian Chef Peter Berley writes about satisfying the demands of staunch vegetarians and passionate meat lovers at the same dinner table.

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