Recipe fantasy to food reality.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

City Mouse, Country Mouse

I live in a town of a certain size and certain location that is judged differently by people, often depending on the size of their own town. Moscow has about 18,000 residents, including the students at the University of Idaho, and is surrounded by a lot of rural land. My hometown, 11 miles away, had 1,000 residents, though that figure is dropping, and we jokingly referred to Moscow as the Big City. I still run into people who say they have a hard time driving in Moscow, with all the traffic and such. On the other hand, 18,000 people is not a lot of people, considering the millions that populate actual Big Cities.

It's funny how this in-the-middle sort of space has affected how I feel when I am in a rural place, and when I'm in a city.

Next week, I'm going on vacation to Vancouver BC, and the trip is intended to be a food-based one. I've researched the advice on Chowhounds Canada extensively, and my list of must-visits include Granville Island, Feenie's, West, and a dim sum place yet to be determined. I have to admit, though, that looking through the menus of the more expensive places, that I was a little bit bewildered at first. I'd never heard the term tasting menu before, though I can assure you I now intend to spend more money on food on this trip than I have on all the meals I've eaten in my life combined. All of this left me feeling a little countrified.

On the other hand, my husband and I spent the last weekend camping with my family and another family, and it left me feeling a little citified. I live in a rural part of the country, but I'm hardly an outdoors enthusiast. It's nice now and again, but if I'm going to live out here, you'd think I'd take advantage of the lovely landscape I'm provided with. I don't, really. In fact, we had to buy a tent to make camping possible - we don't have any of the supplies. We even skipped sleeping bags (since we have none) and brought blankets. It all made me feel a little citified, though I still had a great time.

I'd always had a bad opinion of camping, but I recently started viewing it in a culinary context, and reversed my opinion on camping. When you don't have to hike to your destination, you can bring anything you want; I'd always assumed camping meant eating hot dogs and drinking orange soda. Not so. Last year, the same group of people went camping with my husband and I (a newly minted husband at that point, to boot). Andy and I were just along for the ride, but our hosts brought lots of great wines and beers, and for dinner we ate steak and pasta with fresh pesto. It was also the first time I'd ever eaten pate.

With this in mind, I put a little more thought into our camping trip, and we ate quite handsomely. I brought my dijon/cranberry/rosemary chicken salad, and a sort of made-on-the-fly couscous/fruit/nut salad. The other campers brought meat and blueberry muffins (July and August must be torture for Atkins dieters, with all the delicious fruit around). Pairing this with plenty of red wine, corona with limes, and 90-degree weather along a deep, fast mountain river made for a fantastic weekend.


At 6:57 AM, Blogger deafeningsighlence said...

To me, camping is like tailgating without the football game, mammoth grill, and 160 quart cooler.

The closest city to my house is Central which got its name from being halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta. Most people would consider it a small town, but it is still too populous for me to want to live there.


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