edible southwest color ado No pa ssword required since 2010
No. 32 Spring 2018
2018 Workshop Season Join us on our farm for another summer of learning and reconnecting w ith the healing powers of Nature! May 11th-13th : Medicinal Meads w ith L isa Ganora 2018 Workshops; W ild Foods and Herbs, W ise Woman Weekend, Essential Oil Distilling, Nature Cure
Notables By Zach Hively
Spring Asparagus Morel Sauté By Katie Klingsporn
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter By Kati Esperes-Stevens
Modern Day Trading on the Colorado Trail
By Michael Rendon
By Amy Irvine
Silverton, Italians and a Pot of Polenta By Samantha Tisdel Wright
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Alaska to Florida in One Step an Edible Interview
By David Feela and Beth Paulson
By Rachel Turiel From the Edible Southwest Colorado archives. Spring 2011. Page 32.
LARGE SELECTION OF FLOWER • HASH CONCENTRATES • TOPICALS • EDIBLES • SEEDS • CLONES PIPES • VAPE PENS • SMOKING ACCESSORIES • APPAREL • PRODUCT LITERATURE • ATM ON SITE MEDICAL AND RECREATIONAL • 7 DAYS A WEEK
The Alternative Resource durangoorganics.com
Your Server's Pet Peeves By Rachel Turiel
t is Monday, March 3, and I am driving to Durango and my mind is on you. You’re only six weeks along, maybe just a vessel still waiting for a soul (a poppy seed I am told, nothing bigger), and your mom now sits at home with a feverish flu. She had just bragged to your Uncle Dave not one week before that she never gets sick. And she doesn’t. But she is now. I saw our friend, Deb, in the grocery store yesterday, and she told me congratulations. I didn’t know how she knew about you, other than I think your mom has told everybody even though we said we wouldn’t. We have been waiting a long, long time for you. Years. She can’t help herself. Frankly, neither can I, obviously. Dr. Deb said to not worry about the fever. “Not a problem,” she said. Until she said, “Not a problem,” I had forgotten she was an MD. Just a speck of a sprouted seed and I am already worried about you. So as your mom lays sick and you lay in limbo, a mystery of the world, I head off to spend an afternoon with a waitress named Mama Bea. She has been a waitress for 45 years. I have read her story our writer wrote, and I know she harbors a secret. A mystic of sorts. Not the woo-woo kind. The real kind. A holy one who doesn’t lay claim to the title. One who has no idea of her mystical qualities. I know I will like her. I hope someday you see beauty where I see it. In truth. But now, as I log the miles through that early spring noon-time light, I see you. You are here with me. You make me laugh with a look that reminds me of your grandma. You have her humor. And your mom’s etherealness. When you are still young, I will be old and I am sorry for that. Who will make sure that you are ok? Is it possible that I miss you already? “My mom was a curandera,” Bea says. “My grandmother too.” She makes the kind of eye contact that leaves you feeling as if you are all
that matters to her. She calls me sweetie—a title that always provides immediate respite for my soul. She seats people. Clears their plates. Tells them jokes. Expects nothing but a laugh. “I love people,” she says. “I just love them.” “And are you a curandera?” I ask. “I might have a little of it,” she says. There are two kinds of people as I see it, my precious one. The kind you know and the kind you never will. You will recognize both upon first sight. As if the recognized, the known, came from a life you once lived and only now are crossing your path again a millennium later. And it’s then you think: I know you. I know you. And I love you with all that I am. – Rick Scibelli, Jr.
Correction: Due to an editing error in the winter issue, the original paint-
ON THE COVER
f she can offer a small refuge from life’s pressures in the form of forever refills and vigilant service, this is more than enough for her. “You gotta take good care of people; let them know they’re special,” Mama Bea, a server for the past 45 years, says – as if this is universal human credo. Read her story on page 26.
ing, Finding My Way Back, by Deborah Sussex was identified as an acrylic. It was a pastel. We apologize for the error.
southwest edible colorado MANAGING EDITOR
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Fresh and friendly in downtownTelluride. 201 E. Colorado
EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Rick Scibelli, Jr.
CO-PUBLISHER Michelle Ellis
COPY EDITOR Mia Rupani
POETRY EDITOR Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
WRITERS Rachel Turiel, Amy Irvine, Michael Rendon, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Zach Hively, Katie Klingsporn, Kati Esperes-Stevens, Samantha Tisdel Wright
PHOTOGRAPHY AND DESIGN Rick Scibelli, Jr.
INTERESTED IN ADVERTISING? Michelle@ediblesouthwestcolorado.com Rick@ediblesouthwestcolorado.com
STORY IDEAS, WRITER'S QUERIES Contact Rachel at email@example.com Edible Southwest Colorado is published quarterly by Sunny Boy Publications. All rights reserved. Distribution is throughout southwest Colorado and nationally (and locally) by subscription. No part of this publication may be used without written permission of the publisher. © 2018. edible Southwest Colorado PO Box 3702, Telluride, CO 81435 2 edible Southwest Color ado Spring 2018
Winter hours: 5 to 9pm Wed. – Sun. Reservations 970-626-6853
NOTABLES BY ZACH HIVELY
Ridgway and its Burgeoning Foodie Scene
or a mountain town with a population under 1,000, Ridgway puts an emphasis on quality, local, and conscientious food that’s in touch with the seasons. “It’s about being excited about whatever you’re connected with at the time,” says Spencer Graves, owner and chef at Eatery 66. Eatery 66 is probably the most visually-recognizable restaurant in Ridgway, housed in an Airstream trailer. The once-seasonal restaurant recently moved indoors, but don’t worry—the Airstream came along for the ride. It’s now part of the exterior décor. Graves’ background is in fine dining, so he’s returning to those roots with his plating techniques. But the food—such as the fried chicken sandwich called ‘Me and My Uncle’—is still what he and his wife, Katie, would eat at home with their children. This philosophy means that Eatery 66 relies on seasonal ingredients, working with what local farms are producing. This summer, expect more fresh food and lighter fare. Whatever you choose off the menu, you’ll enjoy as if sitting in a friend’s quirky living room. The Graves didn’t want to lose the feel of the old eatery patio, so they brought that feel indoors into a surfmountain lodge that combines their love of the coast with the San Juans. Because of the Graves’ emphasis on family, Eatery 66 will close for all of April, reopening in May. But never fear, there are other great spots in Ridgway’s burgeoning foodie locale. Burro Café takes the desire to support regional and small-scale producers beyond just food and drink offerings. In addition to featuring local artists on the walls, owner John Metcalf is also having the tables for his exterior seating made locally, in addition to most of the indoor seating.
The warm-toned space welcomes creative expression. Musicians often play for guests, and a nearby dance instructor hosts occasional tango nights on the impromptu dance floor. If the word “fun” comes to mind, that’s exactly what Metcalf intends for his space. Of course, there’s still the edibles to consider. As a coffee and wine bar, Burro Café is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week to accommodate both kinds of connoisseurs. The main coffee supplier is Exotic Earth Coffee Roasters in Ridgway, and the breakfast and pastry treats—cinnamon rolls, carrot cake, breakfast burritos, yogurt and granola—hail from Indian Ridge Farm and Bakery in nearby Norwood. In addition, Burro Café sports a hearty range of tapas—charcuterie plates with meats and cheeses, a wild-caught salmon plate, hummus plate, samosas, and ice cream for dessert. If you are craving a full-kitchen experience, point yourself to Four Corners Café at Chipeta Solar Springs Resort. The new chef there, Chuy Ayvar, cultivates a diverse menu of American meals infused with coastal attitude. We recommend the chef’s empanadas with shrimp and pico de gallo, or the grilled wild salmon with Asian barbecue sauce. A range of salads and sushi rounds out the offerings. Plus, Ayvar is known for his specialty cocktails. Some of these continue the adventurous spirit of the menu, such as the mountain mai tai and the pomegranate martini. As a bonus, there’s $5 Chef Chuy specialty cocktails (and half-price sushi) from 4-6 p.m. From the local family hangout to the ultimate in fine dining, this burgeoning town has it going on. You’d be hard-pressed to sample every stop in a day. With places like Eatery 66, Burro Café, and Four Corners Café, Ridgway is becoming as worthy of a culinary vacation as any of its mountain town neighbors.
Musician Stephen Felberg takes his show on the road to Ridgway. 4 edible Southwest Color ado Spring 2018
Estate Grown and Award Winning in Blanco
or a family-owned winery, Wines of the San Juan brings home an impressive hardware collection from international and regional competitions. For the first time, this spring you can taste one of the international medalists, the 2014 Tribulation Reserve. The Tribulation is 85 percent estate-grown at the winery in Blanco, New Mexico. The blend is rich with tastes of cherry, currant, and blackberry jam, finishing with earthy toasted cedar and licorice notes. It earned a 2016 silver medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, and has only gotten better with age. It’s available exclusively at the on-site tasting room, though other wines are available in southwest Colorado and throughout New Mexico. For all the acclaim, Wines of the San Juan avoids a stuffy vibe. The winery sits in a comfortable estate in the San Juan River valley just 45 minutes east of Farmington, less than two hours from Pagosa Springs and barely an hour from Durango. The tasting room is always free, making this an essential stop on any romantic excursion south. And there’s plenty of opportunities to enjoy a relaxed, all-day adventure. You can venture afield to the gold-medal waters just miles upstream, and a guidebook at the winery points you to the area’s hundreds of sandstone arches. Or, stay put. Coyote fencing and peacocks emphasize the distinctly northern New Mexico atmosphere. And the Arnold family always directs visitors from the tasting room to the World’s Best Swings, hanging on long ropes from one of the cottonwood trees keeping watch over it all (You don’t have to be over 21 to ride them, either).
Spring Asparagus Morel Sauté By Katie Klingsporn
Asparagus season on the mesa coincides with another season, this one unfolding up in the mountains to the southwest. When the winter’s blanket of snow recedes, black morels erupt in the dark forest soil, hiding under duff and ducking behind stumps. A friend of mine with a line on local morel stashes always gifts me a paper bag filled with the meaty, brainy-looking fungi (in exchange for a bag of chanterelles later in the summer). These prized mushrooms impart a potent umami flavor on any dish they touch. Paired together and topped with another spring arrival—the chives that have begun to sprout from my awakening garden—these ingredients make for my favorite springtime dish.
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pring on Wright’s Mesa comes as a pulse of color. The ranchlands, normally tawny yellow or covered in snow, transform into a rich mosaic of greens. Lime-colored leaves unfurl like neon lights from the cottonwoods. And the meadowlarks, which return each year with their gorgeous ululations, offer flashes of pale yellow from their fencepost perches. Once the snow has ceded to rain, puddles dot the back roads and the songs of red-winged blackbirds rise from the wetlands, it’s time to go asparagus hunting. Stalks of the perennial plant sprout along the edges of irrigation ditches, in saturated soil under power lines and in ranchland hollows, hiding in plain sight amid tall grasses. Some specimens are long and willowy, others short and stout, all breaking off with a satisfying snap and filled with water (pick a bundle and cradle it against your shirt, and you’ll be left with a large wet spot where the stalks have wept). Before I ever picked wild asparagus, I imagined it would be sharp or bitter, but it’s sweeter and milder than any I’ve bought in the store, laced with herbaceous notes of spring. It’s as good raw as it is lightly charred or roasted, but overcooking is its ruin.
6 edible Southwest Color ado Spring 2018
INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 cloves garlic 1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut into small coins ½-1 pound morels, chopped ⅓ cup chicken or vegetable stock 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives Salt, pepper and Parmesan
METHOD Set heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Add oil, and sauté garlic about 2 minutes until it releases aromas. Mix in asparagus and sauté for 1-2 minutes or until it turns bright green. Add the morels and sauté until they begin to release their juices. Pour in stock and cook the mixture, stirring often, just until liquid is mostly cooked off. Season with salt, pepper, and shaved Parmesan, and top with chives. Serve over pasta or polenta, with eggs or as a side dish.
EDIBLE BOOK REVIEW
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter By Kati Esperes-Stevens
hen it comes to food and the buy it vs. make it debate, a lot of folks take the initial leap with, say, making their own peanut butter or mayonnaise. When it comes to curing pancetta or making your own mozzarella, well—the tune changes. Those are culinary feats best left to the professionals, don’t you think? Not according to Jennifer Reese in her book, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch – Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Food. Within this (mostly) cookbook-(partial) memoir, Reese tackles everything from the simple (homemade oatmeal) to the complex (duck prosciutto) with a sparkling enthusiasm and contagious confidence that leaves even the most cowed family cook-inspired to attempt something as intimidating as home-cured fowl. Written shortly after the 2008 recession, Reese takes into account the financial demands and time constraints of making fare from scratch while also assessing quality of food and the eating experience as a whole. Organized into sensible sections (Breads and Spreads, Restaurant Food, From Beak to Tail, to name a few), Reese walks the reader through basic information and prefaces each recipe with a foolproof formula of three components to consider when deciding homemade or store-bought: buy it or make it, hassle, and cost comparison. Even though formulaic can often translate into dull and dry, this book manages to stay witty and entertaining. Within the first few pages, Reese is someone you want to be friends with. Her hassle descriptors for the recipes are hilarious and unassuming: salsa touted as “lots of wet chopping,” and homemade Nutella™ straightforwardly and succinctly summed up with “skinning hazelnuts is maddening.” She is warm and accessible and real, and her tone is encouraging and completely reasonable. Oftentimes, the homemade-only crowd can forget to take into account that some of us (ahem) appreciate a good corn dog or glazed doughnut every now and again, but Reese refuses to get evangelical. Junk food has its very own section and Reese isn't shy to admit that making a Pop-Tart is more expensive than buying one and barely worth the trouble (“Hassle: Make it. Once”). If you’re going to eat Pop-Tarts, she seems to say, then just eat some dang Pop-Tarts, don’t be noble. She isn't afraid to cop to the fact that pasta is a spectacularly cheap luxury and also a pain in the neck to make. Often, her answer to the question of, “buy it or make it?” is an emphatic both.
8 edible Southwest Color ado Spring 2018
Reese understands that people have demanding work weeks, needy kids, and not enough hours in the day. She’s not on some fromscratch crusade, but rather a rambling, inquisitive stroll through the lands of reality and quality, accessibility and convenience. And what about cost? As someone whose grocery store budget calculations are solidly in the realm of, “Meh, I'm just going to round up and call it close enough,” Reese's cost comparisons are precise and all encompassing. She's particular about cents per ounce and actually quantifies what makes a serving size. This makes it easy to lean one way or another from a financial point of view and I applaud her this commitment to accurate math. In fact, it is clear from the start that Reese is wholeheartedly committed to this experiment in a number of ways. At one point she acquires bees for honey, raises ducks for the eggs and meat, and adopts two goats for cheese and milk. Reese even goes so far as to care for and slaughter her own Thanksgiving turkey (She braves the gore, so you don't have to)! Weaved throughout the monetary scrutiny and tested recipes are stories that are personal and rich and relatable. Exploring what constitutes love and grace around a mealtime, Reese writes about an extravagant fried chicken dinner she once made for her family. Yes, the food was amazing, but by the time dinner was ready her family was grumpy and she was “bleak with exhaustion.” And yet, the time Reese purchased a bucket of KFC chicken to bring home during a Lord of the Rings movie marathon with her kids? “One of the happiest nights of my adult life,” she recalls. Her family was “hungry and the chicken was hot and we had five more hours of Viggo Mortensen to watch. … My children [still] get dreamy and nostalgic talking about it.” Complication and intricacy don’t necessarily translate into memories, Reese implies, and, then again, sometimes they do. There is no right way to connect through food. Even so, food choices can feel so loaded, so “maddeningly fraught [with] time, quality, money, First World guilt … meaning, and health.” It's refreshing to have a road map that focuses on what you could do to save money, increase quality, and preserve resources, without telling you what you should do. With comprehensive cost analysis and step-by-step instructions, Reese provides this guidance, along with a few laughs, and all the while you know she won't judge you when you reach for those Pop-Tarts on your weekly grocery run.
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Modern Day Tr ading on the Color ado Tr ail By Michael Rendon
e made the deal on a wide section of trail, just before reaching the banks of lower Cochetopa Creek. It was our fourth week hiking the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango, and an afternoon monsoon had just conveniently soaked the surrounding grove of old growth Aspen trees. Like a drug dealer reaching into his bag to deliver what my wife and I had been craving all day, Keith, another thru-hiker, pulled out a small plastic vial filled with a viscous, yellow liquid, and slowly unscrewed the cap. He steadily measured the agreed-upon amount and transferred it into our container, while we slowly and with great showmanship turned our palms up to reveal a buxom, freshly-cut pleurotus ostreatus mushroom. Endorphins streaming through our bloodstream, we exchanged our newly-cherished items, smiled heartily, and continued down the Colorado Trail. For our roughly 500-mile journey across Colorado, we met people from multiple states and countries: Adventure junkies, punk rockers, teachers, retired couples, and, like Keith, competent, resilient youth, out exploring the natural world. Similarly, when it came to food, eating on the Colorado Trail was as varied as its “thruhikers,” those long-distance hikers who spend weeks (and sometimes months) walking from one end of a long trail all the way ‘thru’ to the other end. We met a couple from California who brought 20 pounds of dehydrated butter (unsurprisingly, they were the only hikers we met who hadn’t lost weight). We met a teacher from Maine who carried perfectly-weighed, calorie-counted, add-water-straightto-the-bag Ziploc meals. We even heard that people carried tubes of cake frosting due to its great calorie to weight ratio. (Apparently, the goal of “health” manifests in myriad ways). Surprisingly, we were the only hikers, to our knowledge, who carried a small plastic bottle of whiskey, faithfully upholding cocktail hour at the end of each day. With that much hiking, you eventually learn to live with the
10 edible Southwest Color ado Spring 2018
fact that you are constantly hungry, and being hungry does strange things to your appetite. One night in Lake City, I ate an entire family-sized pizza by myself (plus two meal-like Guinness beers). I had cravings for convenience store nachos, grape soda, and frankly, anything that did not require dumping dehydrated food bits in boiling water. Through those 500 miles, the food that tasted the best and simultaneously brought us the most joy was the slightly-fishy yet covertly-lovable pleurotus ostreatus oyster mushroom. Ah...pleurotus, that pearly-white morsel of yum that has the power to make a dull backpacking meal spring back to life, and for just a moment, fool the beneficiaries into believing they are eating on a 5-star piazza overlooking the Mediterranean. After weeks of eating dehydrated food, rationing our meager pieces of chocolate, and drinking lackluster instant coffee, the pleurotus ostreatus was a treasured prize. My friend, Shan, once told me that he had heard that in Japan they don’t “hunt” mushrooms, but instead, they “catch” them. I imagine Mr. Myagi as a young boy, quietly sneaking up behind a fallen log, crouching slowly and fixated, eyeing the elusive pleurotus, leaning in, then springing forward and pouncing on the unsuspecting fungus. Eighty-five miles into the journey, just west of Kenosha Pass, walking through an aspen grove, I turned to Jenny and said, “We should keep a look out for mushrooms—oyster season is just about to start.” As if a higher power were listening in, a small pleurotus bent its fan in our direction and gave us a curt wave. We pounced. And, our once-boring ramen and freeze dried veggie dish finally found its legs. Our next encounter with the oyster mushroom occurred on the only day of our journey when, auspiciously, we didn’t see a single
Jenny McKenzie cooking up mushrooms on the Colorado Trail.
Photo by Michael Rendon
thru-hiker. As evening approached, we left the glorious Mt. Massive Wilderness and began looking for a campsite at the base of Mt. Elbert, which at 14,440 feet, boasts the title of “tallest mountain in Colorado.” Where other parts of Colorado have been devastated by beetle kill, we suddenly found ourselves in a forest that is still healthy and beautiful, covered in green and densely inhabited by birds and bugs singing their songs. Strolling joyfully in this newfound Eden, we spotted an old Forest Service sign that read, “Beaver Pond.” We headed off trail and found, to our supreme delight, situated in a lush mountain meadow next to a clear lake with an active beaver pond, a campsite tucked into the trees the perfect size for our tent. Having found the perfect campsite in a perfect section of woods, after a perfectly solitary walk, we decided to eat our most exciting meal for this section: A pasta dish which included a dehydrated marinara sauce made from local pork sausage and homegrown tomatoes that Jenny had meticulously prepared back in Durango. Believing that life couldn’t get much more perfect, we quickly reconsidered as a pleurotus ostreatus, ever so whimsically, twisted its gills around a downed Aspen tree, and slyly, yet assuredly, winked at us as we walked by. Like life, thru-hiking can be hard, painful, and cold. Yet, it can also be beautiful. There are times when, just for a moment, you forget about your discomforts. You sit up straight, breathe deeply, and feel grateful for the incredible opportunity of existence. For us, one of those moments took place after a long day’s walk, when we found ourselves sitting next to a mountain lake, beavers gracefully swimming by, and pleurotus ostreatus crackling in recently-acquired olive oil, our taste buds burning with anticipation. Tips for eating well on a thru-hike or any long backpacking trip: In backpacking you carry everything you need on your back, including the food you will eat. The average CT hiker walks 10 to 25 miles a day with a 20- to 35-pound pack on their back. The heavier your food, the more energy it takes to haul it. Therefore, most people go for ready-to-eat foods (like bars and trail mix), along with dehydrated foods that just require hot water. Like most people, we prepared our meals for each section of the hike, mailed them to towns along the trail, and then supplemented them with supplies from the local supermarkets and general stores. Here is what we learned:
12 edible Southwest Color ado Spring 2018
1. Purchase or borrow a dehydrator and get started drying now. While there are surprisingly varied and abundant options for instant meals in the supermarket, they rarely contain vegetables. By planning ahead, you can buy local and seasonal produce throughout the year, dehydrate it, and keep it on hand to add to your meals. Dehydrates well: Broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, fruits, herbs, and even meats and sauces. 2. Carry a small bottle of olive oil for frying mushrooms or fish you might find along the way, to add to wild salads (see next tip), and for making meals such as dehydrated hummus bearable. 3. Get to know the edible plants and mushrooms. Most of your fellow hikers will be from out of state and scared to try any wild foods, leaving an edible forest at your disposal. 4. When planning your re-supply boxes, don’t send all the food you will need. Buying a few things from the general store is a great way to tell the owner “thank you” for holding your package. Additionally, your tastes will change, and it is fun to put together unusual combinations you find in the store. Who knew Cheddar Chex Mix and acai berries would go well together?
Pasta with Local Marinara Head to the farmer´s market in late summer to gather sausage (optional), tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs to make your favorite marinara recipe. Cook it down, let it cool, dehydrate it (approximately 12 hours), then throw it in a food processor to grind it to a powder. On the trail, add hot water to the sauce and let it hydrate while you cook egg noodles. Loaded Mashed Potatoes To your store bought instant potato spuds, add any or all of the following: dehydrated broccoli, tomatoes, chives, kale, and/ or peppers (bacon bits are a nice addition, as well). Pesto Ramen Ramen noodles cook fast and don't require draining the water (leave no trace), and basil is often plentiful in late summer. Prepare your favorite pesto recipe, but use less oil (it will be more crumbly). Dehydrate on low until dry and then pulse in the food processor to create a pesto powder. On the trail, add ramen, pesto powder, and dehydrated cherry tomatoes to a pot of boiling water. Turn off stove, let hydrate for a few minutes, top with olive oil (and sauteed mushrooms) and enjoy!
INDEPENDENT LIVING | ASSISTED LIVING | MEMORY CARE
A Conversion By Amy Irvine
n my grandparents’ ranch, men worked cattle while women made the garden grow—neither one an easy task in the arid American West. With my whole heart I wanted to do what my grandfather and uncles did: I wanted to be with the animals on open range. But I was a girl. And I was asthmatic. So every spring, when supplemental bales of hay were thrown from the tractor and newborn calves pulled from their straining mothers, it didn’t matter how much I begged to help them. I was instead handed a shovel and told to go turn soil for the planting. I resented this task—not only because I was relegated to it, but also because of the way a garden ordered and contained wild nature. I hated the neat rows, the little signs that documented what was growing where. I hated plucking weeds and I hated when my shovelhead hit an earthworm, splitting it in two. But what I loathed most were the beets. When they were ready, I dug them up and hauled them to the back porch, where I scrubbed dozens. Then dozens more. The dark venous red of them disturbed; the stain they left on my hands and forearms looked like someone had tied off tourniquets at my elbows. If this wasn’t a violation of child labor laws, I didn’t know what was. My grandmother would take the clean ones into the kitchen and pickle them in jars. They were served as a side dish for every Sunday dinner—clear through to the next spring. She did all of this without a smile. Which is how she did most things—including taking us grandkids to church. I began to believe that her puckered mouth had somehow been pickled, too. When I grew up, I vowed I would never again touch, let alone taste, the thing that was—among vegetables, anyway—the root of all evil. Fast forward to young adulthood. I’m a wilderness advocate, seeking permanent protection for my beloved Utah public lands. This is how I end up at Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah—the very last place in the nation to have mail delivered by mule. Here, two intrepid women have changed a poor and remote slice of rural America by way of serving food that is grown, raised, hunted, and gathered at the edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument—which was, with other adjoining public lands, the largest contiguous piece of wildlands remaining in the Lower 48. I said was. In 2017, the monument's size was reduced by presidential proclamation. 14 edible Southwest Color ado Spring 2018
It’s spring, and I’d been out wandering in the monument’s red rock—sandstone saturated with every shade of red on the spectrum, colors so vivid and viscous they bleed right through your skin, into your veins. This is how the desert works its way into your heart. The two women serve me their beet salad, a signature springtime dish at their restaurant. I flinch, but I am ravenous. Besides, they are more convincing with their warm smiles and generous welcome than my tough bird of a grandmother ever was. One bite, and I am a true believer. BEET AND CARROT SALAD WITH TARRAGON DRESSING From This Immeasurable Place: Food and Farming from the Edge of Wilderness, the new cookbook (and a whole lot more) from Hell’s Backbone Grill, Boulder, Utah. Serves 6-8 INGREDIENTS (for the salad) 2 lbs beets, washed ½ lb carrots, scrubbed if from garden, peeled if store-bought Greens from beets, if you have them; otherwise 4 to 6 cups mixed spring greens ½ cup goat cheese ½ cup walnuts, toasted (for the dressing) ¼ cup olive oil ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon sugar ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard ½ teaspoon tarragon ¼ teaspoon thyme ½ teaspoon salt Pinch black pepper
METHOD Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Halve the beets and place cut-side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast them for 40-50 minutes, until knife-tender. When cooled, peel the skins off and cut into 1-inch cubes. Cut the carrots into ¼-inch thick coins and boil in lightly salted water for 10-12 minutes, until knife-tender. Drain and cool. Chill the beets and carrots in the refrigerator, or pop them briefly in the freezer. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and let the sit to combine for a few minutes. If you have the beet greens wash them well, blanch them for 5 minutes in lightly salted water, and set aside. Once cooled, mix the beets and carrots together and dress, stirring until coated. Serve on the beet greens or mixed greens, and top with goat cheese, toasted walnuts and (if you’re us), a sprinkle of calendula petals.
Location is everything
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Silverton, Italians and a Pot of Polenta Story and Photos by Samantha Tisdel Wright
ne cold spring day back in 1997, all the Trentini in the world came to Silverton and ate polenta. Enough of them, anyway, to fill up the Bent Elbow Restaurant and Old Time Saloon on notorious Blair Street. From as far away as New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco, dozens of these Italian descendants traveled to the heart of the San Juan Mountains where their foreparents from the Autonomous Province of Trento on the northern fringe of Italy had settled a century ago. A spring blizzard raged on that Sunday in May. The wind blew tiny icy needles up Blair Street’s lonely lengths. The empty, broadshouldered wooden buildings leaned into the storm like they’d done for over a hundred years, waiting patiently for the dandelions to bloom and the tourists to return again. Up in the mountains, the snow drifted in and the highways turned slick. But inside the Bent Elbow, with its pressed tin ceilings and slanted floors, troops of Trentini were keeping plenty warm. They kissed in the kitchen. Compared notes on family history. Toasted the Old Country with homemade grappa. And danced 'til the floorboards creaked and moaned. It was kind of like the northern Italian version of St. Patrick's Day. Everyone was invited to come and be Trentini for a day. ... On the sidewalk outside, Mario Cassagrande of New York City sheltered beneath the Bent Elbow’s yellow-painted balcony, preparing polenta in a shiny copper cauldron over a propane burner. First, he whisked cornmeal into boiling water. Then he stirred the mixture slowly, slowly, slowly, with the “Polenta J-Stroke” using a well-worn bastona polentar—a two-fisted wooden paddle about three feet long, used traditionally for both the preparation of polenta and the disciplining of naughty children by stern Italian mamas. Men with a polenta pot in Silverton in 1997. Picture captured on chrome film by the writer.
16 edible Southwest Color ado Spring 2018
Transferring the polenta in a Silverton kitchen in 1997. Picture captured on chrome film by the writer.
"Sometimes, if you're real fast, you can move out and it'll hit you on the butt instead of the head," Cassagrande laughed. "Actually, it was such a threat that all they had to do was shake the stick and then you'd be good." Inside, the dining room was a-swirl with red and white—the colors of Trento. The women wore long, loose, floral peasant skirts topped with hand-painted aprons and shawls. The men sported jaunty felt capelli hats, and some even wore alpina-style knickers or pantaloni, knee-socks and suspenders. At the center of it all sat the benevolent Italian half-breed who had organized this gathering—Gerald Swanson—with his feisty redheaded sweetheart, Nancy, at his side. Together, they run the Villa Dallavalle Inn on notorious Blair Street, the self-same inn that his immigrant grandparents, Dominica and Giovani Dallavalle, built out of rock and mortar a century earlier. This is Silverton’s official Trentini headquarters and Gerald’s boyhood home. An Italian flag still hangs above the door, and the window sports a sign that says "Parking for Italians only; all others will be towed." Inside, an assortment of photographs, antiques, and framed newspaper articles chronicle the history of the Dallavalle
family who first came to Silverton in 1895. Their forsaken homeland was a rugged, dirt-poor, Italian-speaking corner of the Austro-Hungarian empire called Tyrol, hidden in the shadow of the pale limestone peaks of the Dolomites. Povertystricken young Tirolesi, as natives of the region were called up until 1919 when their territory was ceded to Italy and re-christened Trento, scattered like so many canederli in brodo (dumplings in broth) across the globe in the late 1900s and well into the 20th Century in search of a better life. Thousands found refuge in Colorado’s mining towns where they discovered a ready means of livelihood and a landscape achingly reminiscent of the alpine beauty they had left behind. After retiring from life in the treacherous mines, many stayed put, opened businesses, and stitched themselves into the diverse fabric of their new communities. Silverton’s Hillside Cemetery, with its 500 Trentini dead, remains a quiet testimony to their early presence in this town. There are an inordinate number of Italian names among the crooked old tombstones, memorializing the men, women, and children of Trento who lived and died here—many before their time.
Generations later, Tirolesi/Trentini surnames still season the small mountain towns in which they settled, and those names peppered the Bent Elbow that night: Antonelli, Andrietta, Anesi, Bonatti, Condotti, Fedel, Fellin, Ficco, Mattivi, Montonati, Svaldi, Todeschi, Zanett. Gerald swirled the dregs of his glass of grappa and surveyed the reunion that was joyfully unfolding around him. “The Trentini were a forgotten people, in a way,” he mused. “There was so much widespread uncertainty back then. They didn't know who they belonged to—the Austrians, or the Italians, or nobody. You hear the expression, ‘safety among thieves.’ I think the Trentini stuck together because they felt like there was safety among numbers. If they belonged to nobody else, at least they belonged to themselves.” ... Finally, at long last, it was time to eat. Cassagrande and a few friends lugged the steaming pot of creamy yellow polenta into the kitchen, where the women then took charge, pouring it into large pans, allowing it to cool and set, and then slicing it into wholesome, earnest squares and serving it up with lashings of rich meat gravy, grilled sausages, and sauerkraut. We settled at tables, our plates overflowing. The polenta smelled of cornfields and sunshine, and tasted even better—like warmth, and hearth, and belonging, and comfort, and family, and rich, good things to come. It tasted of home. Lilting snippets of conversation swirled around the room like delicious aromas. "Nice to see you! I want to tell you, this is the other cousin that ran around with Frank Antonioli." "Ahhhhhhh!" "Ohhhhhhh!" "Frances and Anna and I, we ran around. I'll show you where we
used to live!" "Which one of you know Luciano?" "I don't know Luciano." "This one here, Frank Anesi, his mother, Edith, is a Bonatti." "And you're a Ramponi?" "Ramponi! Ramponi! A nice Italian Ramponi! A nice Italian boy!" The band started up with another polka tune. Across the table, Lorenzo Groff pushed back, caught his wife, Jane, in his arms, and twirled her across the dance floor. Although he had immigrated to Silverton over 36 years before, Lorenzo still spoke with a Tyrolean accent thick as the meat gravy ladled over his polenta. “I feel like be home here,” he grinned. “The only place I love.” ... The tables at the Bent Elbow are empty for now, and the polenta pot scrubbed clean, put away until next time—whenever that may be. Not many Trentini old-timers remain in Silverton these days. Most of them, such as Gerald and Nancy, have headed to places where the air is not quite so thin, the winters not quite so snowy. And their children have scattered, like those of a century ago, to new places with more vibrant opportunities. But the Swansons still return to Silverton each summer to run the Villa Dallavalle. Gerald regales his guests with stories ... and the occasional glass of grappa. The Trentini, after all, have a knack for sticking it out. Perhaps the secret to their success is the polenta—that simple, unpretentious stick-to-your-ribs porridge of boiled cornmeal, the eating of which has both fortified the Trentini diaspora and provided them with an age-old excuse to gather.
Cosmopolitan Polenta with local acorn squash & truffle oil courtesy of Chef Chad Scothorn of Cosmopolitan in Telluride
Ingredients 1/2 cup local Bow and Arrow Polenta Corn Meal 1/2 cup semolina 2 cups chicken stock 2 cups heavy cream 1 tsp nutmeg 1 each local acorn squash, cut in half, seeded and slow baked in oven with small amount of water ¼ cup regianno parmesan cheese 1 tablespoon white truffle oil 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley Salt and pepper to taste
Method In a large pot bring the chicken stock, cream and nutmeg to a simmer. Using a whisk, slowly add the corn meal and semolina. Bring back to simmer….very low simmer while stirring. Whisk in half of the parmesan and use the remaining parmesan as garnish. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust. Plating: put a slice of warm squash on the plate, pour the polenta on the plate next to the squash, garnish with truffle oil, diced squash, parmesan and Italian parsley.
Alaska to Florida in One Step An Edible interview with Udgar Parsons , Puja Dhyan Parsons and Richard Miller of Growing Spaces in Pagosa Springs, CO
ong before much of anybody thought of having their own personal greenhouse, there was John Denver, iconic voice of the Rockies, and his biodome near Aspen. It was the mid-80s and working there was this former dentist, a Scottish guy named Udgar, who before first laying eyes on this biodome had figured out how to successfully farm a remote far-northern peninsula in his home country. “I remember the first time I saw it,” Udgar Parsons said. “It was November and it was 27 below zero. Three feet of snow on the ground. I went to this dome where I was looking for a job. It was like going from Alaska to Florida in one step.” He asked, “Where is the heater?” They told him there was no heater. Udgar’s life was instantly changed. “I decided I wanted to make these available for the regular person and figured I could build the same kind of greenhouse with the same features for $2,000. Which I did. And it supported three families in our little mobile home community.” “That was Aspen village in the Roaring Fork Valley. Probably in ’85,” Puja Dhyan Parsons said. Puja and Udgar met around this same time. They married about 10 years later. “No, that was 1989 when I built that first dome,” Udgar said. At first, Udgar and Puja built about 20 a year. Then, around 1995, they moved Growing Spaces from Aspen to Pagosa Springs. “Then everything suddenly took off,” Udgar said. “But what really kicked us off was Y2K. People are suddenly thinking, ‘What if the supermarket shelves are empty and there is no electricity?’” That year, 1999, they jumped from constructing 20 domes a year to 75. Today, the electricity-free, solar, hogan-shaped domes come in six different sizes ranging from 15 feet in diameter to 42 feet.
How many domes do are you building a year now? Udgar: The average is about 125 a year. But it has been a gradual progression. We have just grown steadily and now we have a year around staff of about 14 people. In the busy season, it goes up to 25. What was the moment that you said, “I don’t want to be a dentist anymore.” Udgar: I wanted to learn more things in my life than just how to fill teeth. And somebody offered me a piece of land on the remote peninsula in the north of Scotland and I just felt to say yes. As a result of being so remote and isolated, I had to learn to do everything myself. Gardening. Fixing tractors. Building houses. Silage. Hay. So being a dentist just kind of faded away? Udgar: I always enjoyed it, but yes. The clincher was when I came to America, because my English dental license didn’t work. I applied twice to sit before the state board and national board and each time I missed the deadline. So I started thinking, well, there must be some reason I missed the deadline. So I took that as a sign that dentistry was not in my future. Puja, you said that everybody deserves good food. I get the feeling that this is more than just selling domes for you? Puja: It is about health. When I was a teenager, I had to be moving. Today, they might call it ADD or ADHD. But back then we didn’t know about hypoglycemia. We didn’t know that sugar was a bad thing. My mom was feeding us Kool-Aid. Udgar: She drank the Kool-Aid. (Puja Laughs) Puja: It wasn’t until I became a vegetarian and had a more stable diet that my psyche stabilized. I had no idea that nutrition was the foundation of health on all levels. For Udgar, growing up during World War II on rations for the first seven years of his life, the garden was not only survival, but it taught him the joy of fresh food. We just got a letter from a woman who is healing her multiple sclerosis from one of our domes. It is the kind of letter we love to receive. Udgar: To eat fresh organic food is a powerful medicine.
lta County DeFRESH N COLORADO M
PHOTOS: JIM BRETT, LEHMANIMAGES.COM
So if I put one of your 15’ domes (the smallest available) in my backyard, how much food can I expect to harvest? Udgar: Essentially, you can grow 2 to 2.5 pounds per square every year. So for a 150-square-foot dome, that is 300 pounds of fresh vegetables every year. And that is a lot. What is the time requirement? Udgar: I figured out from my 22-foot dome that it is about 4 hours a week. You sow the seeds, tend to the soil, and then harvest. Otherwise, you just watch things grow. The plants will tell you what they need. How do I take a vacation if I have one of these? Do I have to get somebody to take care of the dome and the dog? Puja: The dog, yes. With the dome, the only thing you need is some sort of automatic watering system set on a timer. It is designed for our lifestyle. You look at these things and you think, ‘Wow, this is so cool.’ But as a non-gardener, it might require more than I am willing or capable of offering. Puja: It starts to be therapy more than work. It’s healing. Most of our customers have never gardened. It hooks you in. A shift of priorities happens. Ugdar: You can’t go a day with knowing how the brussels sprouts are doing. I think this may be true in southwest Colorado. But I think there are two worlds. My relatives in Dallas, all educated, spirited, and active people, I guarantee they have never given one thought to a personal greenhouse. It would be a foreign idea. So how do you crack that world?
cedaredge ~ crawford ~ delta ~ hotchkiss ~ orchard city ~ paonia www.deltacountycolorado.com
Ugdar: There are two worlds. But Yoga was regarded as something totally weird 20 or 30 years ago. Now, yoga studios are popping up everywhere. There is a shift happening. It used to be only Waldorf and Montessori schools buying the dome, but now a lot more public schools are installing them. It is getting out there in the community. Richard Miller (a consultant to Growing Spaces): By the way, we have put domes in Dallas. Can a family of four who lives in Montezuma County on around $50,000 a year afford one these? Puja: Yes. You can also make it more affordable by banding together with other people and making it a community garden. More often now people join together. And we have built several of those. Ugdar: Where are you going to get fresh food in the middle of the winter? The market. Thus, over the lifetime of a dome (approximately 20 years), the investment can pay for itself 3 or 4 times over. Miller: But if it is a passing hobby, then it isn’t going to happen. We can show the numbers. But it has to come from within: ‘We want this because it will enhance our lives.’ What do you do in the summertime? Ugdar: Keep growing. The systems of the dome keep it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Water tanks stabilize the temperature. And will you help with that? Will you plant for me? I think there is a large swath of the population who wants to enjoy a greenhouse without the time needed to master it. Udgar: We will tell you what to do. We have people who will set it up for you and plant it for you. We will provide. Miller: We are only successful as you are. You are suggesting it can convert the non-gardener in to the gardener? Puja: Absolutely. It is so much fun. What will grow in the winter? Ugdar: Mainly leaves and roots—beets, turnips, radish, parsnips, lettuces—swiss chard, kale all the members of the cabbage family, broccoli. Peas grow well in the winter. And all the herbs. Parsley loves the winter in the dome. Can I grow a banana tree in here? Miller: Yes. You might have to augment with a little heat now and then, but yes.
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EDIBLE POETRY PAGE
A pot of apricot tea steeping on the marble sill, its steam clouding the window. Sunrise on the counter like the yolk of a broken egg, oh happy disaster of morning. All is settled then, the man still asleep, the woman keeping this time for herself beside the sink, thinking of every beginning and ending she's known before filling her cup. – David Feela
Cooking Italian Bocelli sings in the living room while in the kitchen steam rising from pasta water becomes fog of Tuscan mornings over terraces of olives and grapes. I sing along as I mince fat cloves of garlic, heat oil for odori, touch slick skins of ripe tomato, the garlic sputtering to gold. Con te partiro repeats the tenor, but I anticipate touch of hands, embraces, breaking of bread over a deep red Valpolicella, faces illumined by candles, each flame a little song. – Beth Paulson
24 edible Southwest Color ado Spring 2018
The farmer-owners of the Southwest Farm Fresh Cooperative wish to give special thanks to our top ten customers of 2017: Cocina de Luz Cosmopolitan Durango Natural Foods Coop Aemono Fine Foods and Catering Allred’s La Marmotte The Butcher and the Baker Prospectors The Farm Bistro Zuma Natural Foods And to our community of local food supporters, thank you for another great year! www.SouthwestFarmFresh.com
Mama Bea By Rachel Turiel
Despite having just met her, Wesley Sackman of Pagosa Springs gets a heartfelt goodbye hug from Mama Bea at Durango's Lone Spur Cafe.
26 edible Southwest Color ado Spring 2018
Photos by Rick Scibelli, Jr.
he Sunday breakfast shift is at full roar. Every table is jammed with patrons in states ranging from jittery hunger to postprandial carb stupor. Four parties await seating in a sliver of a waiting area. The kitchen is banging out supersize meals designed for bygone days of men working cattle. Inveterate hostess, Mama Bea, calmly stitches her way through the narrow restaurant passageways like a deft needle, hands occupied with the tools of her trade. Mama Bea likely woke up excited, wondering which familiar faces she’d see at Durango’s Lone Spur Cafe today: “It’s just so good to see everyone. They keep coming back.” With dangling red-hot chili pepper earrings, supportive shoes, and a trim, salt and pepper, no-nonsense hairstyle, she patrols the restaurant with a pot of coffee looking for folks in need. “You done here, darlin’?” She asks a woman whose plate is empty, save for a neglected pile of hash browns. Mama Bea whisks up the plate and tells the customer, “Now you can relax with this outta your way.” She means it. Mama Bea, waitress for 45 years, and now hostessing (because, “I can’t fucking walk anymore. But I can tell ya a joke, darlin’”), takes her job seriously. “People need to relax, get away from all the turmoil.” If she can offer a small refuge from life’s pressures in the form of forever refills and vigilant service, this is more than enough for her. “You gotta take good care of people; let them know they’re special,” she says as if this is universal human credo. She’s a pithy business tagline come true, or maybe the spokesperson of every spiritual tradition: In giving we receive. Bea Williams began waitressing in Pagosa Springs as a teenager, netting 75 cents an hour. As a single mother to her second daughter (Her first daughter is 53 and her second 34. You do the math.), she
moved to Durango and began waitressing evenings at Francisco’s Restaurante Y Cantina while her sister babysat. Days, Bea worked in the Park Elementary lunchroom so she could see her daughter. At Francisco’s, she developed a following who appreciated her hospitality, jokes, and reliability. Even tourists sought her out on their annual trips to the Southwest. She waitressed at Francisco’s for 31 years until the restaurant closed in 2014. In 2016, the Lone Spur Cafe took over the iconic Francisco’s building on Main Avenue and the manager, Scott Finzer, came looking for the equally iconic Mama Bea. “He took a picture of me and put it on Facebook—is that what it’s called?” Mama Bea shrugs, “It said: Mama Bea is back.” Indeed. Like a bird overhead, Mama Bea takes in her vast surroundings in a single frame. The coffee is returned to its warmer and she’s marching with place settings toward a newly-emptied table out of view. How’d she know that table was vacated? “I saw Diane walking away with cleared plates,” she explains. It seems algebraic, somehow. If Diane is walking at four miles per hour with six empty dishes, how many tables have just opened up and where? Meanwhile, three more tables vacate. Mama Bea rushes them with her wet rag, totes menus under her arm, takes extra time to scrub some spilled syrup (“Get it outta there, ‘darlin’”), arranges place settings, and consults the waitlist. Is she stressed? “Nope. I just keep runnin,’ darling’, I just keep runnin’.” She calls out, “Emily, party of two.” Emily and her breakfast mate rise. “Follow me,” Mama Bea instructs, “Follow your Mama.” She’s back with the coffee pot, singing her Sunday morning refrain, “Dribble, dribble, dribble” as she pours. Most people smile at her, a few squint bewilderedly, wondering perhaps, ‘Who is this woman and why is she enjoying her job so much?’ “Hey Mama,” someone calls to her. “I know it’s Sunday, but I could use a joke.” “How nasty do you want it?” Mama Bea returns. “Medium.” “You know why women don’t want to go to heaven?” She allows a short pause for suspense. “Because there’s only one peter up there and he’s a saint.” Mama Bea pauses for a nanosecond to enjoy the laughter, then is off to perform triage on a recently relinquished 4-top. Mama Bea puzzles together a table’s worth of of empty dishes into a towering stack, which she carries into the full-tilt kitchen, shouting, “Coming in!” A dishwasher materializes, grabs the ceramic tower from her in what seems to be a moment of compassion, but could just be protocol. “Thanks, Mama,” he says, a phrase you hear ringing out throughout the restaurant frequently during her shift. Not to invent sentimentality, but this restaurant crew appears to work together with a sense of care and collaboration that is reminiscent of a family, except probably harder to find in any gathering of
28 edible Southwest Color ado Spring 2018
actual relatives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans currently stay in their jobs for an average of 4.2 years. It seems we’re not the most settled of people, always looking towards the horizon for what new opportunity might be dawning. Did Mama Bea ever say to herself in her 45 years on the restaurant floor, I’ve had enough of this? “No. Never,” she says with certainty. While change roiled in Durango, trailer parks swapped for condos, Mama Bea was likely triangulating between home, Francisco’s, and her daughter’s activities with full conviction of her purpose. In the midst of the Sunday breakfast circus, a server named Mike discloses that Mama Bea is like Durango royalty: “She knows everyone, she’s like a celebrity.” Usually, royalty is a title bestowed on local philanthropists, politicians, innovators, and job-makers who perhaps affect the course of history. And yet, in a town like Durango, which partially runs on the fuel of tourism, perhaps it’s the many service workers who deserve gratitude and recognition for keeping the machine of hospitality humming along, dropping dollars into our tax base. Mama Bea’s back on her rounds as caffeine first responder. “Hey, who let you guys in here?” she calls out to some just-seated folks who greet her like family. She tops off a man’s cup and says, “How’re you today? Ornery, I hope.” Someone compliments her on her hot chili pepper earrings and she nods. “I’m a hot Mama,” says this woman who’s old enough to be someone’s grandmother. A young couple— colorful, loaded omelets in front of them—ask for a joke. “Have you heard how sex is like snow?”* Mama Bea begins, her audience rapt with anticipation. It seems this job could include less banter, less joke-telling, and maybe the preservation of energy for a woman who’s been on her feet for 45 years (she hasn’t heard of a Fitbit, but figures she walks several miles a shift). These connecting exchanges are what it’s about for her. “I really enjoy people. They keep me going.” She pauses, perhaps flipping through the rolodex of her own memories. “I’ve had a wonderful, wonderful life. I’ve worked hard, but it’s all worth it.” That’s about as much nostalgia as she can afford today. A table has opened up and Mama Bea leads a couple to their refuge for the next 45 minutes. Two hours in and her morning shift has already contained miles of faces, gallons of coffee, and at least three jokes rated medium-nasty. When she returns to the couple bearing place settings she says, “Thank you for being patient. Didn’t want you eating with your fingers, darlin’.”
* To find out the answer to, “How is sex like snow?” go down to the Lone Spur Cafe for the Saturday or Sunday breakfast shift, or check this story online at ediblesouthwestcolorado.com.
Your Server's Pet Peeves
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any people living in a tourist town will take their turn as a restaurant employee at some point. A few (see Mama Bea) will make it their lifelong career. We talked to four “career servers” who remind you to see the humanity behind the uniform. They want you to have an enjoyable experience while in their care, and to be aware that your actions affect their experience. Make no mistake, this is a skilled and chosen profession. Mariposa Velez, in the business for 26 years, describes her attraction to working in restaurants: “I love people, I love food, I love great conversation. To be able to help create an experience for someone that includes all of these elements serves my soul.” “Bottom line,” says Shaleigh Holland, server for 30 years, “Treat people the way you want to be treated: be polite, kind, and patient.” The four servers we queried have a combined total of 120 years experience working in restaurants. Here is how you can make their job more wonderful.
30 edible Southwest Color ado Spring 2018
Don’t self-seat at a dirty table.
Respect the order of operations. First, I’ll greet you (and please don’t respond with “BURGER”), then I’ll take your drink order, then when I return with your drinks, I’ll take your meal order. This helps the whole restaurant team work more efficiently.
Don’t wave me down saying you’re ready to order. I know why you’re here.
Bring toys or books to entertain your children, something they can play with other than the condiments. And please, clean up after them.
If you stay at a table for 2-3 hours, especially during a busy time when I could be turning that table 2-3 times, please tip accordingly.
Don’t forget to add a tip on your credit card slip. I tip out 10 percent to back of house, bussers, hostesses, and bar. If you forget to tip me, it costs me money to serve your table.
Coordinate your table’s drink orders so I’m not coming back for each individual’s drink.
Don’t use half a sugar packet and put it back in the sugar holder.
Don’t use your glass as a trash can.
When I come to check on how you’re meal is, please acknowledge my presence.
Don’t forget to tip on items you receive for free. I do the same amount of work even if you get more for less.
Get off your *@$%! phone.
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