Of the Region, For the Region
I’ve been in Switzerland for two weeks now, teaching and choreographing and writing. This is the street my apartment is on:
It is pretty easy to eat locally grown and bio (organic) food here. Even the chain supermarkets have a big bio selection, and many foods are marked with cheerful green labels that translate “from the region, for the region!”
Between my trip to California in December and this excursion, an awful lot of fossil fuel has been burned to move me around. I can only say that my carbon footprint is still smaller than it would be if I weren’t a locavore because these are trips I would have taken anyway. I counter minor attacks of “green guilt” with the thought that every little bit helps: according to the current issue of Eating Well magazine, “Buying 25% of your groceries from local farmers for a year lowers your carbon footprint by 225 pounds—even more than recycling glass, plastic and cans!”
My friend Meike came over from Germany for a visit. I promised her a vegan meal since that is her preference, and ended up making a very good soup with large butter beans, canned tomatoes from the Ticino region of Switzerland, and assorted local veggies including celeriac. I drizzled a little extra-virgin olive oil on top (from Italy, which here is not too far away) as well as a splash of balsamic vinegar (ditto) and some minced parsley. We also had a winter salad with nüssli a.k.a. mache, local apples and dried figs for dessert (I would have added cheese, but it was a vegan dinner, so…)
Today I found a little store on the corner of a cobblestone street that has a small but excellent and affordable selection of regional organic wines.
I’m finding it easy to continue eating a predominantly local foods diet here in Switzerland. It may be especially easy here in the region called the Bodensee, which has a milder climate than other parts of the country. It’s warmer here than back home in NYC, although there has been quite a bit of snowfall. But the snow usually falls overnight and melts by midday. On my train ride to work each morning I see community garden plots still boasting leeks, Brussels sprouts, and kale. And I get to rest my city-weary eyes on the lake. This was the view as I waited for the train yesterday:
I have to admit that the choices at the market here for local produce look pretty much the same as they did in NYC when I left: root vegetables, leeks, cabbages, apples…’Tis the season. I saw the first snowdrops and crocuses blooming here while taking a walk yesterday and immediately felt that late-winter pang of yearning for color on the landscape and something new on my plate. It will still be mostly roots and apples on offer when I get home at the end of the month, but at least I can look forward to the first wild harvests by the middle of March: chickweed, field garlic, and garlic mustard will be in season then.
Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith