Victoria Wesseler has a passion for local food, so when she said she’d be coming to Seattle, it seemed natural to take her to a farmer’s market. What I wasn’t so sure about was if she’d be game to come to my house to cook up what we found she’d never met me. Nothing like flying across the country to go home with some man you’ve met on the Internet!
She found me through SoupSwap.com and has been hosting them now for several years outside of Indianapolis. Over the long-term, it seems that Soup Swap groups develop unique passions: some focus on fancy packaging, some think up elaborate door-prizes, or put their effort to gathering food for the charity. Victoria’s group challenges each other with preparing soups with locally grown ingredients. I’ve only been through Indiana once and the food I had was found in truck-stops as I blew through, but her blog, Going Local, makes me want to return and savor food we can’t grow well here in Seattle.
It was a real treat to pick a few tasty local things from the Mad/Mad Market that I knew her and her in-town friend would likely enjoy and get a change to talk about the differences in food culture between here and the Midwest.
The thing that has really stuck with me from those conversations was the difficulty that Victoria has getting the local food banks to accept fresh produce grown on their farm. It seems that noone in line at the food bank knows how to cook something that doesn’t come processed and boxed. Here in Seattle, we can’t take enough of our community harvested fruit to the food bank. It’s often ugly and on the verge of being over-ripe, but perhaps with so many immigrants in line, they’ve not lost the knowledge that a handful of plums can be made into many great dishes?
When people ask me about some of the great stuff about Soup Swap, I often talk about the sense of community it can build. For me, personally, that community has spread to organizers across the country and it’s a special treat to meet these folks in person when they’re visiting Seattle.
It’s also a special treat to have someone pass on the best cocktail recipe you’ve ever had and one that you can make out of stuff in your garden! Victoria’s Rhubarbarita Supreme! We made this as the signature drink for my 40th birthday party, and folks, I’d turn 40 every year to drink this. If you live in a place that you can grow rhubarb, you need this recipe.