Thursday, October 11, 2007

Before Wine Making

I knew that my uncle made wine. It was always a mystery to me growing up and thinking back to Thanksgiving dinner- the one classic day of the year in my extended family where we gathered together to eat and drink extra well. How was it that suddenly my uncle would pull out from a leather wine carrying case, two or three green glass wine bottles with the only label being a piece of masking tape roughly torn at the edges and slapped on with the inscription that read: Chardonnay 89’ or Cab 87’? Wondering where these bottles came from and why were all the aunts and uncles suddenly cooing in the corner of the sweet smelling kitchen? What was so wonderful about those bottles? I would have to wait and learn.

It wasn’t until years past and I came back from studying abroad in Italy did I even begin to learn about wine. My family appreciated wine, my uncle made wine and in Italy it was apart of life, the vines grew, they produced grapes you made wine. In Italy, one doesn’t just eat food to stop some annoying hunger- you worked while the food around you was being made. The Italians know what is important in life, food first, work second.

I knew growing up that if I listened I would learn from all the people whose crafts I admired. I think there is something to be said about not being raised filthy rich- if you have to struggle and be smart about getting information-because you don’t have the power of money to buy your way- you listen more, you have to.

I respect food. It took me awhile to understand it and I am still understanding it. I was raised in the 80s- of course it was going to take me awhile. Like everyone else around me, it wasn’t the time of the farmer- it was the time of the scientist. The time of the frozen food isle and the 2-liter bottle of sugar. Food colored, processed, freeze-dried and packaged.
It was the dark age of food consumption. I feel blessed to have been raised by an intelligent cook. More than anything about my childhood sometimes, I’m thrilled that my mother in a word was and is “creative.” But, when the time came, you can’t blame my mother for rejoicing in the microwave oven. Cooking was and still remains a slave duty. As a cook myself, we are in the “back” of the house, low wages, long hours, heavy lifting and burns. We are not to be seen. But without my mother being a crafty woman, we could have eaten like so many other people who eat to sustain, to be entertained or quickly by instant food, and I wouldn’t have known any better.
It is not to say that we are out of the dark ages of food consumption- I think we are in the midst of a slow food revolution however. If you look around people are celebrating the arts of what used to be known as mandatory labor. People are sewing clothes again, learning to cook and learning to farm.

It is to this long segment of history that we get to the winemaking series.

No comments: