Last night I had the rare privilege of spending time with two serious foodies (and please forgive me if I use all the wrong language throughout this post, I’m somewhat of a virgin localvore, slow food, 100 mile eater but I’m learning!). My friend Karma who writes for EAT magazine, and has her own company, Inbound West, has a wonderful passion for getting people together and making sure we have an intensely high quality, high calorie, highly local food experience that tells a story not only to our waistline, but to our hearts and soul about place, and our relationship to it. Joining us was another heavyweight on the Island foodie scene, none other than Christine Smart, a formidable talent whose business, Smart Events, designs ‘foodie happenings’ among other things such as fabulous weddings, private parties, and corporate events.
I realized early on I was in a ‘foodie happening’ the moment these women picked up the menu at Zambri’s. I was happy to scan, pick the most fattening pasta on the menu (I am resolved to say yes to all the food I want for the next two weeks) when suddenly the conversation took a serious turn to examining the minutiae of sausage pedigree, olive oil bitterness, and exactly what order we were going to be tasting. Tasting? I thought we were eating? It turns out there is a high art to tasting and both Karma and Christine lovingly and thoughtfully ordered plates that complimented each other: an amazing appetizer of prosciutto, hazelnuts, figs, and greens, then ‘Zambri’s Cesare’ salad, followed by Puzzalente pizza (gorgonzola, potato, onions, herbs).
While we ate, I realized as I listened to these women talk about food and it’s relationship to the land, as well as their own relationship to Victoria, that I had been missing something quite vital in my life here since the summer of 2006 and that was a true connection to the place. When I came here, I imagined that the deep and happy connection I had to Victoria during my undergrad years would be blithely replicated. I was wrong of course. At first I went out by myself quite often, but unlike Vancouver, there is not the same community of single women in their 40’s as there is in a larger, urban setting. In other words, there were the couplelanders and well, the singlelanders and the twain did not, ever, meet. I think I checked out at that point. All of the people I met were married and stayed in with their partners doing whatever co-habitators do year-round while I pined for full-scale rebellion in the streets of a city where I could barely move with the punishing crowds of singlelanders out to quench their need for city life.
But last night, listening to these ‘co-habitators’ talk about their rich lives here on the Island, I felt a pang of regret. In my finger-tapping rush to finish with my time here, I had missed committing to the place. Hearing their stories of food, and farmers, and the rich relationships they had to the land, I felt like I had been completely out to lunch, well, actually, not even at the table! I may long for New York, but I am vowed to live in the present, be more local, and invest in the food and the people here more fully in 2011. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll start to find my place.