Canning veg and visiting the farmer’s market feel good. But neither we, nor the planet, can wait. It’s time for food to get futuristicby Stephanie Boland / December 11, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
In 2014, the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award—awarded for the best food writing each year—was won by the journalist John Jeremiah Sullivan for an essay on jam.
Taking its title from the first line of a 1919 Wallace Stevens poem, “I placed a jar in Tennessee” described a process of preservation and transformation through sugars, jellies and canning that Sullivan—and the preserve-obsessed friend whose story he tells—fears is becoming a lost art. His friend’s obsession is kicked off by an urge to conserve, to save a “giant flat of ripe strawberries” from rotting. The pair draw on the memory of grandmothers, who lived life “in sync with the natural world in a way that went beyond daytime/nighttime.” In a line which reminded me of my partner’s love of baking sourdough bread—a process which he cheerfully undertakes via a series of small tasks spread over three days—the friend finds that making jam helps him regain that sense of time: “You were always monitoring some jar in the kitchen, observing its changes. It gave the whole house a clock to go by.”