Thursday, October 05, 2006

Marco Polo rules

I miss my morning jolt of java. It's hard to go without coffee. But this is a good experience to go a month and learn the depths of my addiction to caffeine.

A local-food enthusiast told me that some eat-local challenges allow edible exemptions known as "Marco Polo rules." That means any spices a 13th-century explorer would have on hand such as salt, pepper, and leavening agents like baking powder and yeast.

The idea for the Marco Polo exemption came from Vermont author Bill McKibben, who went for seven months eating all-Vermont fare, then wrote about the experience for Gourmet magazine. His account details his diet of meat, cheese, cider, syrup and oats.

We're following similar rules in our challenge. But in the Upper Midwest, we might call them "Voyageur" rules. I'm being a stickler on ingredients, too. Even though there's some great local beers and breads made here, they use grains from out of state. So they are off limits.

Our kids have taken a liking to a transplanted local food: jicama. Pronounced HICK-a-ma, the root is from Central America and popular in Asia. It can be cooked or eaten raw. A farmers market vendor who was eating one like an apple gave me a sample. It tastes like a sweet snow pea or water chestnut. According to Wikipedia, jicama's sweet flavor comes from a form of fructose that is not metabolized by the body, so it's an ideal snack for diabetics and dieters.

Today's menu:
Eggs over easy with hash browns and sausage for breakfast
Apple slices, beef sticks, cheese curds for lunch
Chicken booyah for dinner


Blogger Fire Fly said...

It looks like you have a great start on the "eat local" challenge. It would be interesting if you & your family could find out more about what kinds of foods, herbs, and seasonings Indigenous people used before the arrival of the "voyagers." At that time, the indigenous people, around here, included the Menominee, Potawotomi, and ect. For example: it's known that they used the velvet of the Red Sumac to make a tart beverage. I'm guessing they probably put a little maple syrup or maple sugar in it, too. Wintergreen makes a great minty tea. Also, don't forget that wild rice was a main staple of the indigenous people in this area. Although most wild rice beds have been destroyed by the "voyagers" as they settled in these parts; the wild rice is an indigenous food to this region. Perhaps the Sokoagan Chippewa or Mole Lake Chippewa, or Forest County Potawotomi, or the Menominee people will have some wild rice available for you. The wild rice harvest should be done by now. Don't forget about indigenous fish, fowl, deer and other small game. I don't think you're a hunter, but I do think you have something of value that you can use to barter with a hunter/fisherman for some of those foods. Good luck with your endeavors and the "eat local" challenge.

9:13 AM  
Blogger You dee said...

Don't forget chicory. And how about those delicious wild grapes that suddenly started growing along the trail from De Pere to Greenleaf. Blew my mind. I had never seen them until last autumn. The vines were thick with sweet, juicy, purple grapes.

1:11 PM  
Blogger k said...

I live 45 minutes north of Green Bay and haven't come across wild grapes being sweet; however, you can mix wild grape juice with homemade, pressed apple juice (cider) and enjoy an awesome drink.
P.S....This can be easily frozen and enjoyed when that white stuff starts falling from the heavens!

10:06 AM  

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