Sunday, July 13, 2008

Who's Boldo?

Many people have inquired as to the origin and meaning of the name Boldo's, which henceforth will be my nom de plume.

When I was in New York city in 2005, I took my wife Rosemary to Strand Bookstore on Lower Broadway. Strand's claims to have 18 miles of books on hand, many used, so its a book bargain-hunter's paradise. While Rosemary perused their collection of books on spiritual matters, yoga and martial arts, I check out their large collection of food editions and cookbooks.

After an hour or so, I was feeling a little fatigued, so I sat down on a chair situated on a landing between floors, knowing she would have to come down that way. While I was resting, an art book caught my eye. On its cover was Giuseppe Arcimboldo's Summer portrait. This is an intricate work in which the artist has fashioned a physiognomy using a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables for the various facial features.

I got up and took down the book, fascinated, and started browsing through the artist's other portraits, numerous of which carried a similar theme. There were pictures of people made up of birds, fish, flowers, animals and the like, but I was particularly attracted to the seasonal quartet of portraits that comprised Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Each portrait was made up of those flowers, fruits and vegetables that were in season during each quarter of the year. The seasonal food cycle laid out in these unique portraits spoke powerfully to me, and I knew I had found the icon for my future food business.

Adding to my excitement was the fact that Arcimboldo was Italian, the country whose cuisine I am most interested in; a discussion of which this blog will address in the future.

However, Guiseppe's surname is a mouthful and subject to being mispronounced by Americans, so I decided to shorten it to Boldo's, a two syllable, Italianesque name which connotes, to me, the cyclical nature of the growing seasons, which should correspond to what shows up on our supper table.

I say "should" in the preceding paragraph as today our modern supermarkets have turned seasonality on its head, offering us strawberries and asparagus in the middle of the winter when they are spring-time fare, and fresh corn and green beans year round when they are summer-time foods.

I won't eat a strawberry unless its grown within 20 miles of where I live, so my intake is limited to 6 weeks from early June to mid-July. Of course, if you've ever eaten one of those tasteless Florida strawberries in February, you know it can't hold up next to a fresh berry bursting with nature's sweetness from 4 Corners Farm in Newbury or Cedar Circle Farm's organic berries in East Thetford. Think globally, eat locally, as they say.

And that is a theme I will return to in the future. I am an advocate of eating locally with foods in season. This is the way people all over the world eat, even today, but not in the United States. Here people demand a large variety of fruit, vegetables and proteins without regard to their natural season, and these demands can only be met by importing products, using unconscionable amounts of fossil fuels, from far away states or lands.

We are in an energy crisis, folks. It's time to re-examine our support for non-seasonal products produced thousands of miles from New England and brought here by ever increasing costs. It's time to support the increasingly diversified local agricultural community that produces outstanding food products of a significant variety. And you know what, the local products tastes better, so if you are interested in good taste and healthful food, attend farmers' markets and local farms which sell direct. Get on the Vital Communities website ( and you'll be connected to hundreds of local sources. You'll be glad you did.

Next week, my recent adventures with a locally raised organic pig.

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