I thought I’d write a bit about food today, but first a run down of the day’s activities.
1. Sanded fence.
2. Filled the hay loft.
2. Milled rye into flour. Once the hopper was full and I just had to wait for the barrels of flour to fill, I:
a. Fed the goats who nearly de-pants-ed me;
b. Watered the horses;
c. Took garbage to compost;
d. All while keeping an eye on the mill and making sure the barrel didn’t overflow;
3. More fence;
4. More flour;
5. More hay.
I’ve never been so filthy in my life, imagine the layers of dirt. (I have pictures, but am struggling to transfer them to the computer with minimal rest and Polish instruction. I’ll continue working, though.)
As for food, we eat lots of chleb (bread), ser (cheese), and maszlo (butter). All of these products are made at the farm with resources grown at the farm. Bread, cheese, and butter is basically the menu for breakfast and dinner. Occassionally, there will be a few slices of cured ham, vegetables from the garden, honey, jam, and on days that have been especially trying a little Bulgarian wine before bed.
Lunch aka Dinner aka Obiad is the main meal of the day, eaten around 2 in the afternoon. It generally consists of hearty Polish peasant food: borscht with big chunks of beet, potatoes, carrots and assorted beans; fried pork chops with boiled potatoes and mushroom gravy; remarkably tasty cauliflower soup. Needless to say, nothing comes packaged or pre-processed; most everything orignates within a few hundred meters of the kitchen, and there’s no anti-bacterial hand gel in sight.
On the train to the monastery, I read Michael Pollans The Omnivore’s Dilemma which got me thinking more acutely about where my food comes from. Tonight at dinner while eating my chleb with butter and honey, I was struck by how intimately involved I was in its production. In just the one week I’ve been at Grzybow, I’ve cleaned out the silo that holds the grain, filled the silo with new grain, cut wood for the oven, moved the wood into the oven, ground the grain into flour, and on Monday, I understand, I’ll actually turn my flour into bread. That little piece of dense, dark, rye chleb might not have cost me any zloty, but I’ve nonetheless paid dearly for it.
I haven’t quite figured out my takeaway from this observation just yet. Surely, I’m not going to return to the States and start a biodynamic bakery, but I think I can be intentional about weighing the expense – monetary, environmental, labor – of my food. A loaf of Wonder bread might not cost many dollars (does it even cost 1?) but surely it charges its fee in other places and in other ways far away from my home kitchen.
I had also meant to write about dinner-time conversation tonight. Topics have included bio-dynamic farming, anthroposophy, the role of the Catholic church in Polish politics, etc. Maybe tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow, I understand it is a day of rest (Saturday, obviously, was not). Breakfast at 10 instead of 7.30. Mass at noon. Then, a concert at Chopin’s country home a few kilometers from here. (How is it I didn’t realize he was Polish?)
Must go now. Ewa just brought me a book about Polish Benedictine meditation. Apparently, I’m supposed to translate the introduction by breakfast. . .