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Day Two: Tuesday, August 19
This morning I attempted to make homemade bread. Part of the panic that set in a few weeks back was quelled when I discovered Mike Buckner, who mills local wheat flour at his Junction City grainery.
Flour meant bread, and bread meant a full belly.
Finding a recipe that accommodated my restrictions was a challenge, and finally I ended up concocting my own. I swapped sugar and molasses in one recipe for honey, and borrowed the egg wash on top from another.
Buckner's flour is coarse and contains more chaff – the seed debris left over from milling – than store-bought flour. As a result, my bread bakes up denser and heartier than I'm used to, but also sweet and satisfying. It's the kind of food that provides a feeling of intrinsic security. I think it's safe to say that bread's been around long enough to have penetrated our psyches on an evolutionary level. I touch the warm loaves and know in my DNA that I won't starve this week.
Which isn't to say I won't go a little hungry. After a small lunch of fresh bread with a Beech Creek Farms peach on the side, my husband and I headed up to Dahlonega to check out the wineries. Three wineries and four hours later, I was so hungry I could barely stand it. We were looking at two hours before we'd make it back home to my lifesaving loaf of bread. One of the winery employees told me there were local peaches at the Wal-Mart up the street, so we decided to stop there.
When we arrived at Wal-Mart, I ravenously searched the produce section, but to no avail. All I could find were some Georgia onions. As my husband slunk off to the Subway at the front of the store, I checked the nut isle to see if there were any Georgia pecans, then the dairy isle. Nothing.
I wouldn't expect Wal-Mart to carry much local produce. It's one thing to know that intellectually; it's another to be desperately hungry, standing in the midst of a huge store full of food, and realize that nothing, not one thing (save an onion) in all these isles and isles of food came from within state lines. It seemed ludicrous. I would've laughed if my stomach didn't hurt.
On the way back into Atlanta, I made my husband turn off at the Perimeter to go to Alon's in Dunwoody. I found a small wheel of Sweet Grass Dairy's Green Hill cheese. As the cashier looked on in horror, I tore open the wrapper and bit into the gooey cheese as if it were an apple. "Eating locally," I said in a desperate attempt to explain, mouth full.
"Uh-huh," he said uneasily.
Day Three: Wednesday, August 20
This morning I was in Decatur and decided to stop by Your DeKalb Farmers Market to get more cheese, and possibly some local butter (an item I know exists but has so far eluded me). I love this place as much as the next Atlantan, but I've always kind of resented that it calls itself a farmer's market.
I made my way over to the cheese department, and after a few minutes of looking, I asked one of the guys behind the counter if they had any Sweet Grass cheese. "What?" he asked, looking perplexed in his massive refrigeration-fighting parka.
"Sweet Grass Dairy?" I said hopefully. He shook his head, not understanding. "Cheese from Georgia?" I tried.
"Oh!" he said. "No. We don't have any Georgia cheese."
I've gotta say, I was surprised. At Wal-Mart, I felt silly for expecting to find Georgia food, but here I thought it would be easy.
Next I headed to the dairy section, where there was also nothing from Georgia. So I tried produce.
It's the middle of August, so there were a ton of peaches. They came from all over – New Jersey, Pennsylvania, even Washington state, but not from Georgia.
The market's produce section is impressive in part because of all the locations represented, but Georgia doesn't figure heavily at all. I was able to find muscadine grapes, hot peppers, okra and bitter melon from Georgia, but no Georgia tomatoes. No Georgia eggplants. No greens.
Tonight, without any help from Your DeKalb Farmers Market, I cooked one of the best meals I've had in months – Riverview Farms Berkshire pork chops over Logan Turnpike grits. I made a salad from Stoke Farms' beautiful Asian pears and Flat Creek's stridently sharp blue cheese. I washed it down with Frogtown's 2003 Marsanne, a funky, rich, delightful white wine from Dahlonega.
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