Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Guilty Pleasure

I am deeply committed to local food, which is good for us on so many levels. Locally grown food is picked at the peak of ripeness, which is also at the peak of nutrient-density. It supports local farmers and contributes to the local economy. And it doesn't have to be transported very far, which lowers carbon dioxide emissions from cargo trucks and the like. My CSA delivers boxes of freshly-picked produce and pastured eggs once a week, traveling a total distance of 9 miles via biodiesel truck to the drop-off spot; I add another 14 miles to pick up said box of freshness. This is the way I like just about all of my food to get to me, and I do a lot of what others would consider obsessive research to find out where my food is coming from, who's producing it, and if they're treating the plants, animals, and earth well. I really enjoy this process of connecting to my food in a very intimate and conscious way - it's fun for me, and helps me keep in touch with what fuels my body.

Every once in a while, though, there is a food that I simply must have. In 2004 I spent two weeks in Scandinavia for a family reunion. While there, I spent a few days in Malmรถ, Sweden with old family friends. Each morning, they had a wonderfully fresh breakfast laid out: freshly baked whole-grain bread; lettuce, tomatoes and onions; fresh butter and cheeses; muesli and kefir; and Kalles, the traditional Swedish breakfast spread made of creamed cod roe.

Now I know what you're thinking - after reading the words "creamed cod roe" how could you not? I had the same reaction, but I'm a pretty adventurous eater (especially when I'm traveling) and love to try exotic foods. So I followed my host's lead, spreading a piece of fresh bread with butter and Kalles, then topping that with cheese and veggies. It took a few bites to get used to the salty, briny taste, but soon I was hooked. When we got home two weeks later, I made a beeline for the nearest IKEA and bought two tubes of the stuff (along with some other Swedish goodies) to take home.

Three years later, I still make regular trips to stock up. I just love Kalles, and even though it is pretty much the antithesis of everything I generally look for in food (it travels about 5,500 miles to get to me, probably by polluting cargo ship, and sits in a huge warehouse of consumerism) I make an exception for it. These cons aside, it is a pretty healthy food. The ingredient list is entirely recognizable, and it's full of good fish oil and protein. Here's how I enjoy it most mornings:

Fry an egg in butter or coconut oil. Meanwhile, toast a slice of sourdough bread in the toaster or oven. Spread the toast with fresh raw butter, then with Kalles. Top with cheese, then the fried egg. Lettuce leaves and tomato slices go well between the cheese and egg, if you wish. It's a healthy, nutrient-dense, and satisfying breakfast that sticks with me through the morning and well into the afternoon. And it's yummy to boot! Ah, Kalles. How you have won my heart.

What's your guilty pleasure?


Popeye said...

Ok, now I'm hungry. . .

Adam R. Paul said...

That sounds unusual for breakfast, but I've heard of stranger things! Our culture doesn't seem to favor seafood products in the morning, for some reason. I'll have to keep an eye out for a tube-o-roe next time I'm at IKEA :)

PS. Tag - you're it (see here)