Comfort food made by rock-growing yahoos
BUG GUTS & BEAUTY
By Orpheus Allison
It may be an excuse. If it is then perhaps it is time to reconsider exactly what the excuse is for. Aroostook County and its residents are a tenacious lot. Our tenacity comes from lifetimes of growing rocks in the large open fields of The County.
If you can manage to eat rocks then you are a pretty tough, single-minded person who can stick with an idea and build a life around it.
Forty years ago most of us were focused solely on the lowly spud. At the time our parents, grandparents, step-parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and neighbors were all focused on the spud. This in spite of the reality of our own gardens. Our gardens were filled with squashes, carrots, onions, beans and other delightful nibbles. Did you ever note the outburst of zucchini in the collection plates? Time passes and families grow up, kids leave and new options come about.
We are not a fancy people. A stop at the local eatery shows us that the latest fashion is a new blaze orange hat. Add a gut and you might fit in. In such moments new ideas come to the top and we begin to realize our connection to the larger world. For example, who knew that potatoes had to be white.? Now it’s easy to find red skinned, yellow and blue fleshed varieties. These are popular. So popular that you can fly the friendly skies on Jet Blue airlines and munch on Aroostook Blue! Also nice to note that the pilot of that Jet Blue flight may have sailed with the Shipmates at Presque Isle High School. Not too bad for a bunch of rock-growing yahoos in the wilderness.
With the changing diets there remains a constant. People love their comfort food. Soon our big city brethren will be able to enjoy Aroostook cheese and pasta. Flour for pasta, milk for cheese, grown in the fertile fields of this county that we love will be on the shelves of stores in Boston and beyond. Each delicious mouthful a reminder of brilliant summers, blue skies, and simple pleasures that hard work brings. Boxes of a great comfort food will be packed by County residents, loaded onto pallets made by more County residents and shipped on trucks from The County. All to bring comfort in a world that seems a bit nutty at the moment.
More such treats to come.
Many different voices are urging us to buy local. Thanks to innovators, stubbornness, and larger visions, Aroostook County food is feeding a thriving economy.
Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in the County. He began his journalism career at WAGM television later working in many different areas of the US. After twenty years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea. Graduating from UMPI he earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina.