What are the traditional dishes you cook that have been passed down through the generations? Are the majority of your meals coming from a long lineage of food culture, or are they mostly swayed by what was on sale or quick to make?
When I say “Italian food” or “Mexican food” a picture of very specific food comes up. There are methods and ingredients that are connected to those foods that create a cultural outline. What identifies “Alaskan food”?
A friend of mine once told me she learned to make butter out of local cow’s milk. It took her all day. A Russian Old Believer friend of mine stared at her aghast. How could it take all day? It only takes minutes.
Methods like churning butter are second nature when you do it regularly. When those methods have gotten lost, however, it takes a bit to relearn them.
Practice makes perfect. To make sure that our food culture doesn’t melt into whatever is on sale or the quickest to microwave, we need to pay attention. As always, the Homer Farmers Market is a great place to start.
First of all the ingredients are all there. From our iconic salmon and beloved oysters to delicate herbs and hearty vegetables, the Alaskan food culture thrives there.
The Market even encourages you with demonstrations like Wednesday’s Chef at the Market where Bette Seaman from South Peninsula Hospital showed us methods for taking that food and quickly and affordably making a meal.
You also will notice at the Information Booth a stack of recipe cards. Free to take home, these recipes are the house specialties from chefs around the state. Not only are the recipes delightful, every Alaska-grown ingredient is highlighted to show you what you can get locally.
Create your own house specialty. Using the methods and ingredients picked up at the Market, you can make food like you find at the King’s Kitchen booth where Chaz’s veggie chili had onions, zucchini, kale, cilantro, parsley, and oregano from his fellow Market vendors.
So head on down to the Market on Ocean Drive to start your own traditions from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday or next Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m.
Kyra Wagner is the director of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan — or at least one of them.