Driving back from Minnesota last week, my husband and I were discussing some of our old friends and acquaintances. I had a neighbor, for instance, who spoke an odd form of the American English language, and we were wondering if her verbal tics were particular to the neighbor or particular to Minneapolis. (We agreed it might be both.) One thing she would always say was “borrow me” when she meant “lend me.” Another thing, and this is the one that sticks with me, is she’d say “had boughten” instead of “bought.”
I say this all the time, in its negative: “This salad is so much better than any I had boughten.” “My gah, this roast chicken is fantastic, better than anything I had boughten in a restaurant.” “Okay I am going to die quite happy, this cider vinegar dressing I made is out of this world, much better than any bottle I had boughten.” I say all these things to myself, of course, in my head: saying such things aloud could bring some strange looks. (Okay, I could have said them out loud to my old neighbor.)
But here’s my point: there’s no contest between the home-grown and the had-boughten.
Why don’t people see this, know this? Why do people settle for convenience? Is a supermarket salad really that much more convenient than a home-grown one? Unless it’s salad-in-a-bag (horrors), you still need to wash and separate and mix and dress it. The time it takes me to come home, grab the salad spinner, trade work shoes for garden shoes, harvest the salad, rinse it, bowl it and dress it is STILL much shorter than me swinging by the grocery store and had-boughening the salad fixings. I can even poach an egg for the top and still come out ahead on the clock.
And the chicken. Granted, not everyone either wants to or can raise chickens for eggs or for meat. But home-grown eggs are a separate kingdom altogether, might as well be from different species of animal…same with the meat of those home-grown chickens. As is doing little things like making your own salad dressing: clipping your own herbs, mincing your own shallot, shaking it all in your own little jar with your had-boughten olive oil and salt.
Okay, okay; so there are very few things that I get around to had-boughtening. That olive oil, that salt, in bulk. Boxes of pasta (in a pinch). Butter, sugar. Selected seafood, and not from the grocery store. Wine. Everything else, though, really, everything, is grown here or are things that I had boughten through local farmers: wheat, oats, corn, cow, pig, all in bulk, all purchased and stored for the year.
I get a lot of questions, mainly because people assume I don’t work and doing all this MUST take the hours of a day job just to keep on top of it all. “How is it that you have time to can things? I certainly don’t have the time to garden, much less can,” was a statement (how can this be a question) from a mother at our daughter’s school. How am I to answer that? That I spend wonderful time daily with my daughter in the garden, in the kitchen? That my life with her is not spent in a minivan, getting drive-through food between soccer and ballet? That eating breakfast and dinner, seated at the table with cloth napkins and candles with my family every flipping day is the best kind of quality of life that I can imagine? That it is a choice to live this way, to eat this way, to be this way?
To just say no to the had boughtens? Because that is what this is: saying nonono, while greedily saying yesyesyes to the best food money can’t buy. And I’m having the best time making it all happen: much better than anything I could have had boughten.