Our friends over on Beaverdam Creek, run an organic family farm and run a popular CSA program. You should check out their website and blog and see all the great things they do. They “grow slow food” and supply their customers weekly with a basket of fresh, organic veggies grown in their huge garden. They also send out a great newsletter that we enjoy…this week…they mentioned a great essay from I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition by Twelve Southerners (1930)…that we thought was worth mentioning.
The essay is entitled “The Hind Tit” by Andrew Nelson Lytle and is rather poignant and enlightening considering where we find ourselves today in regards to agrarian life vs. industrial life. I’ve been reading parts of the essay to my children and we have been greatly enjoying the stimulating, thought provoking conversations this essay is spawning. Here are a few quotes:
“The midday meal, like all the meals in the country, has a great deal of form. It is, in the first place, unhurried. Diners accustomed to the mad, bolting pace of cafeterias will grow nervous at the slow performance of a country table. To be late is a very grave matter, since it is not served until everybody is present. But only some accident, or unusual occurrence, will detain any member of the family, for dinner is a social event of the first importance. The family are together with their experiences of the morning to relate; and merriment rises up from the hot, steaming vegetables, all set about the table, small hills around the mountains of meat at the ends, a heaping plate of fried chicken, a turkey, a plate of guineas, or a one-year ham spiced, and if company is there, baked in wine…
…His table, if the seasons allow, is always bountiful. The abundance of nature, its heaping dishes, its bulging-breasted fowls, deep-yellow butter and creamy milk, fat beans and juicy corn, and its potatoes flavored like pecans, fill his dining-room with the satisfaction of well-being, because he has not yet come to look upon his produce at so many cents a pound, or his corn at so much a dozen. If nature gives bountifully to his labor, he may enjoy largely….
…The dishes of food are peculiarly relished. Each dish has particular meaning to the consumer, for everybody has had something to do with the long and intricate procession from the ground to the table. Somebody planted the beans and worked them. Somebody else staked them and watched them grow, felt anxious during the early spring drought, gave silent thanksgiving when a deep-beating rain soaked into the crusty soil, for the leaves would no longer take the yellow shrivel… The fullness of meaning that rain and the elements extend to the farmer is all contained in a mess of beans, a plate of potatoes, or a dish of sallet. When the garden first comes in, this meaning is explicit. If the yield has been large and rich, it will be openly and pridefully commented upon; if the garden has burned and it has lost its succulence to the sun, some will remark that sorrier beans have been seen, while others, more resentful of nature’s invincible and inscrutable ways, will answer that better, also, have been seen. But aside from some such conservative expression, in its formal tone making a violent passion, no other comment will be made. And as the enjoyment of the garden’s produce becomes more regular, this particular meaning which the dishes at a country table has for its diners settles into the subconscious and becomes implicit in the conduct of the household.”