It was a three Tim Tam Tuesday and I definitely needed a nap, when I realised I may have suggested something illegal at Festivale last Friday evening.
You know how sometimes, something you’ve said comes back to freak you out?
Last Friday I mc’d at a cooking class by one of Tasmania’s insanely clever chefs.
Matt Adams of Timbre (pronounced tam-bra) was cooking produce provided by the Tasmanian Food Company.
His ingredients were Nichols chicken, Robur Farm goats milk, Meander Valley cultured butter and a mingle of greens and native herbs.
Matt also chatted about a nifty, neighbourly barter system for seasonal produce and how each day’s menu is decided by whatever is abundant.
I got excited and wanted to include the audience and encourage bartering and foraging, season to season, neighbour to neighbour, colleague to colleague, individual to charity.
Foraging for fun and definitely not for profit.
But what about those without a vegetable patch or orchard?
Or people without a proper garden like us, townhouse dwellers?
In our courtyard, we grow a fabulous selection of sage, thyme, parsley, basil, small fig and lemon trees as well as some very lovely gardenias and hydrangeas.
But we have none of the abundance enjoyed from a properly-tended, Tasmanian vegetable garden.
So, on Friday evening I might have suggested people without gardens do what my husband does, which may or may not be legal.
I remember Matt rescuing me with “we’re not suggesting you steal”.
And I wasn’t. Not really.
My husband goes out at night and returns with lemons, rosemary, mulberries, blackberries and other produce he’s noticed has been neglected and is fair game.
Dear reader, you should see the wide smile and pride that comes with a newly-discovered crop of blackberries or lemons.
I am a sucker for the boy inside the man who finds joy in something as simple as a perfect blackberry. “Look at this whopper,” he’ll say.
So, on Tuesday, I thought “Merde!”
Did I really suggest the audience go night stalking for other people’s crops? I did.
By Wednesday the universe had provided a lesson.
For whatever reason, produce was thrown at me from all directions.
First was a bag of figs from Susan. An hour later, tomatoes and a chilli from Geoffrey’s garden, cucumber from Victoria’s veg patch and another cucumber, zucchini and tiny tomatoes from neighbour Neil.
However, the icing was half a rhubarb cake, on our front doorstep from Rika’s daughter.
As I plated dinner that evening, I realised it was a masterpiece of other people’s generosity; a few figs, amazing tomatoes and cucumber, slices of lemon with some roasted carrots, beetroot and barley, a drizzle of Greek yoghurt and olive oil alongside a slowly reheated remnant leg of lamb.
Even our rhubarb cake dessert was a gift.
On Thursday I happened on a quote by chef Helen Goh that for me sums up what happens around food and sharing:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel”, she said.
"I think there is something about being given recipes (and produce?) that help you to create a sense of belonging, a sense of generosity and love around your own table, in your own home.
“There is something very powerful at work here."
Matt and I survived his cooking class and hopefully our participants will share their knowledge and bounty in a powerful statement of the rich contribution of food to our sense of belonging.