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Monday in California, and still enthralled by the extraordinary beauty of the place. Went for a drive yesterday in the northern valleys of Ventura county and spent a good hour trying to re-identify what I was looking at, flora-wise. Orchards of oranges, loads of lemon trees, and an abundance of avocados. Makes me almost like avocados again. Almost.
Somewhere along the way we stopped at a fruit and vegetable stand where virtually everything in the place is grown locally. We got lemons, satsuma tangerines, some avocado honey (really) and watched pygmy goats and alpacas endure small tourist attentions. The real news about this place, though, is that the list on the little slate board tacked next to the register, headed “Grown here” listed 22 items. Beautiful lettuces, Napa cabbage, beets of three kinds, obviously just harvested, with greens attached. Tomatoes. Carrots. And strawberries, just picked. Almost overwhelming. We had to buy and eat several things, including a restorative taste of cherimoya, the Central American relative of the pawpaw, often called Custard Apple. Oddly, I’d eaten my first whole pawpaw last summer, courtesy of a fellow who attended a community engagement meeting on the National Heritage Area feasibility study. Now I’m patiently awaiting the one we purchased to become perfectly ripe, probably sometime tomorrow. Those of you who know how passionate I can get about fresh and local food realize by now that I’ve managed to get to heaven without actually having to die. Rabid foodie, me. I confess. Be nice to me and I’ll share my artichokes.