I think a lot about food — usually because I’m staring at my computer screen and wanting something to wake me up, which I know shouldn’t be food but it’s often the first thing that comes to my mind. Also because I find myself, for the first time since my freshman year in college when I didn’t have my own kitchen, without real options in relation to what food I can buy and/or eat. I am a fairly contrary person, as I would imagine many people are, so when I cannot have something that is precisely when I find myself wanting it the most.

As I mentioned before, I recently bought several books on organic gardening, which is definitely a tease considering where I live. Before we came out here, I read a really interesting article (but can’t remember where it was) on whether organic produce is really much better environmentally speaking when it’s oftentimes transported all over the country, producing all sort of pollutants, than is local produce overall. Obviously the ideal for the purposes of this article was organic and local, but I thought it was a really fascinating concept because I’ve often thought the whole organic thing is somewhat overstated in terms of being so natural and unsullied, when it’s often packaged and transported just as is local produce. The article had a whole feature on one person who made it their goal to eat only local produce for a year (and he lived in Maine, so that was a serious commitment given the winter!) and how they learned to preserve and freeze and such so they had things to eat in the winter.

I would love to be able to do something like that — the past year or so I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’d love to be able to grow a lot of my own food and learn how to preserve them by canning or freezing. That, of course, does not mesh well with the idea of moving around, which is an option we’re considering, so we’ll have to see how it comes out. In the meantime, I’m enjoying reading my books on organic gardening and dreaming of the day I can have a garden with berries and herbs and all sorts of vegetables.

Speaking of making food, I’m trying an experiment to make yoghurt. I do not, however, have a yoghurt maker or a candy thermometer, and I’m not even 100% certain that the yoghurt they serve in our mess hall has active cultures, although since the guys running the cafeteria are Indian I think there’s a good chance that it’s real yoghurt. We’ll have to see. If it works I’m hoping that eating real yoghurt every day will help prevent some of the seemingly inevitable episodes of stomach distress that happen here, and will maybe help keep me from getting sick as much this fall and winter. If not, then I’ve wasted a liter of milk. Things could be worse.

Which reminds me — I have to take back what I said about the “farmer’s market” here. We went to one a couple of days ago, which was much better than I expected. They even had some local produce (apparently this year is not a cholera year so far), including local melons, cilantro (my favorite fresh herb besides basil!), lemons and local sour cherries. I made the cherries into a sort of a compote that I will eat with my yoghurt if it works, and if not I’ll probably try spreading it on toast or something like that. We’re making the best of things here as much as we can…although we still spend many of our few free hours planning our R&R trips, so I guess the prospect of a temporary reprieve is still quite tempting!