I’d like to point out something about the current food scene: it’s chock full of buzz words.
Local, organic, wild harvested, craft, medicinal, ancient, native, micro – the frenzy is really just getting started, but nonetheless it has me questioning everything I believe about food-as-art and food-as-pleasure.
We foodies just can’t seem to get enough of the social movement that dances around handcrafted splendor, carefully concocted libations, and tiny treats with tempting signs of artistry. While my brain says “this is what’s cool now and totally rad” my heart pleads, “So what about the fancy stuff.”
This past week I ventured out to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to check out the new food events taking place now through the end of June. I had a lovely private tour of the grounds, which quite literally blew my mind. If you call yourself a native Tucsonan, but you haven’t visited since your 3rd grade field trip, it’s time.
I’m not sure if it was the sun peeking over the mountains on a cold morning or the lovely docent guiding us through paths lined with edible jojoba – all the while describing ways in which to roast it as a yummy snack – that blew my mind more. Either way, the light bulb of fascination was switched on.
Or maybe it was the ethnobotanist-meets-foodie banter about Chiltepin Newbies, Ocotillo blossom power-aid-booze, and sneaking Hopseed bush libations if sweet mescal were in short supply. For the first time since moving to Tucson from the balmy tropics, I saw this vast expanse of desert as it truly is: totally lush.
I’m convinced this fascination with all things local, ancient, and hand-crafted is about more than being hip, or driving the local economy, or even the food itself. It’s really a yearning for the world in which we were meant to live all along. The version of life where we are given what we actually require the most: connection to the place we call home.
The Tohono O’odham and their animal companions totally got it, to a level of mastery that would make any city slicker believe in the ethos of farming in a dry, hot desert.
To take your local-foodie enjoyment to the next level, here are some ways to learn about, appreciate, cook with, and fall head over heels in love with the foods grown right here in Tucson. All of the workshops below take place at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Perfect Pruning Workshop
February 7, $36
Got a tree, don’t know how to prune, and are too nervous to actually give it a haircut? (If you’ve never wielded pruners…you should be). Learn the basics of pruning, how-to’s, and excellent tips for maintenance.
Heirloom Fruit Tree Workshop
February 26th, $53
Hosted by Jesus Garcia of The Kino Heritage Fruit Trees Project
Learn techniques for propagation, pruning, grafting, and the care of fruit trees, and learn the historical significance of these trees. Think figs, pomegranate, mesquite, citrus and other delectables!
Daily Tours featuring Springtime bounty and the Cacti Bloom
Now – June, included with price of admission
Look for upcoming events including a Tapas Tasting March 4, Cholla Bud Harvest April 4, Food & Drink Fermentation Workshop May 16, and Passive Solar Cooking May 9.
For more information about tours, events, and Foodie adventures at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, visit desertmuseum.org/adultclasses.