Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Foraging: Mi Vida Loca-Vore

Foraging: Mi Vida Loca-Vore

“I really want to congratulate you,” said the Green Femme as the Green Man staggered through the apartment door after another two-hour, all-public-transport commute. “You’ve become a real loca-vore.”

“A what?”

“Like a carnivore, only you buy local and in season.”

“I do?”

“Like a herbivore, only a local-vore. I mean, loca-vore. Get it?”

“In Spanish that would mean I was crazy and female, you know. As in Mi Vida Loca-vore.”

The Green Femme was not amused. I sighed. “Okay, what exactly did I do? I mean, do right, for once.”

“Not for once. You’ve been doing a lot better lately.” Then she opened the fridge and took out the leftovers from my Saturday shopping expedition. Plonk. “A fish from Phil’s at Abingdon Farmer’s Market.” Plop. “A brave little hydroponic lettuce from the Korean folks.” Thwack. “A loaf of bread from Bread Alone–no, wait, bread doesn’t count as loca-vore since New York State doesn’t produce grain.”

“Sure it does. What do they make all the beer from?”

“It’s imported, dummy.”

“I thought that only counted if it came in green bottles and from over the border.”

“Not if you’re a loca-vorist.”

“But beer is the one language all men have in common.”

“Doesn’t matter.” She surveyed the 75 percent loca-vore ingredients before her. “Do you feel like cooking?”

The following evening The Green Man’s cell went off as he wearily mounted the stairs in a long file of commuters exiting the Seventh Avenue subway stop. It was a warm day, the first warm weekday of spring, and the sweatstains were already in full bloom and full fragrance.


“Pick up something for dinner, okay?”

“Loca-vore? Or just organic? Or anything to quell the savage beast–”

Cell phones don’t make a click when someone hangs up on you. You can keep talking for blocks, if you’re the long-winded kind. Eventually you realize you’re babbling like an idiot, though. And you’re embarrassed, until you realize everyone around you is babbling like an idiot.

In the straight shot home, at this hour, past seven p.m., all my green theory went out the window. This was Survival Hour, what paramedics call the Golden Hour. Get that Green Man some food now! And there was the supermarket.

“Buy local,” I thought. And there, by the door, was a stacked case of beer, in tall green cans, with a sign that said: STRONG BEER.

“Subtle,” I thought, and took one. At $1.25 it was as cheap as anything I’d find in a 10-block radius. But where was it from? The word “beer” was printed in five or six different languages, as were the ingredients. It made me want to hum The Internationale, or rather, the Beer Internationale. (“I get knocked down, but I get up again...”)

I studied the label: 9.5 % alcohol. Good heavens! This was way past malt liquor. Who were these fiends? Finally, the tiniest of small print revealed the secret place of origin: Lithuania.

“Brothers, comrades,” I breathed. “Neighbors–what’s one beer?”

I strolled between aisles down to the long low meat cooler. And there it was: locally, proudly, boldly, manly. “Nittany Lion Franks.” The football fan in me rose and shook a foam finger at the sky. Nittany Lions! The mighty enigmatic mascot of Penn State, home of Coach Joe Paterno of Happy Valley, Pennsylvania.

That local could embrace ballpark franks I had no doubt. Besides, an orange sticker said “Reduced for quick sale.” Into the basket–did I dare?

The cell rang. “Hello?”

“Did you shop yet? Because forget about it, I think it’s just too warm in the apartment to cook. I ordered Chinese.”

“Loca-vore Chinese?”

But she’d hung up.

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