Meet Anna Brones, founder of the ethical food porn site Foodie Underground, and EcoSalon contributor. She’s living in Paris right now (the second best city in the world), and was nice enough to share some of her lovely foodie adventures with us. Bon appetite!
Mondays are sacred.
Since I came to Paris in January, they have been reserved as “veggie nights” – the night that we go and pick up our weekly basket of local food: Vegetables grown just outside of the city. It’s part of a system called AMAP, a French consortium of organizations set up to promote independent agriculture and a direct connection between consumers and producers. You buy into the AMAP in your local community or neighborhood and every week your farmer brings the weekly load to the local pick up place and you go to retrieve your goods.
Our farmer’s name is Manu. He is there every Monday, smiling, shaking people’s hands, chatting with every member. He has a welcoming face. Warm, generous–the kind of face that makes you happy to be buying from him.
The vegetables are in abundance, but stick to their season. When the first head of lettuce arrived it was practically cause for celebration. Maybe spring would eventually arrive, too. Rhubarb is just making it’s way into the mix. It’s the little things.
Monday nights are in fact, like Christmas. You know there will be the basics like, carrots and potatoes, but maybe, just maybe, there will be some other surprise vegetable. Something you weren’t waiting for. Something to force you to get creative in the kitchen with.
Two weeks ago on Sunday evening we received an email. There would be no vegetable pick up on Monday night.
Manu had a fire on his property.
As much as not having the prospect of vegetables on Monday night was upsetting, it was nothing compared the feeling we had in the pit of our stomachs imagining a fire on Manu’s farm.
More news followed soon thereafter, a slew of email updates as more information came in. Manu and his family’s house were fine. The building where they stock many of their machines for cleaning and keeping the stock of vegetables wasn’t. Hundreds of kilos of carrots had burned. Damage was in the six figure range.
We were encouraged to trek out to the farm. Lend a hand in any way that we could. So the following Sunday, we hopped on a train north out of Paris. It was grey, rainy and cold. Not idyllic May weather. Depressing in fact.
We walked the country roads from the train station to Manu’s property, making our way to the house that he is in the process of constructing (fortunately, it wasn’t touched by the flames).
It sounded like there was a party going on.
It was a little before two in the afternoon, and in the space that will eventually serve as a main room once the house is finished, 15 or so people were gathered around a long picnic table, boxes of wine at the end, large slabs of Comte and Morbier cheese ready for anyone that wanted, pasta and stew brewing on the stove. It was lunchtime. Everyone was smiling; after a morning of hard work they were finishing off with a hearty meal. Even in the face of destruction, food was bringing people together.
Manu welcomed us with the obligatory French bise. One kiss on each side of the cheek. “Bienvenue ma belle,” he said to me smiling.
Someone quickly cut to the chase.
“How are you doing?”
Read the rest of Anna Brone’s story at Foodie Underground!