...in the bottom drawer
I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.

currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London
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September 10, 2004 || 2:08 am
A post about food

One down side of my little apartment here is that I don't have a table to eat at. Or rather, I would have a small square one, but it's taken up with all this laptop/work crap. So this means that tonight, you get dinner-time blogging (plate on table in front of laptop) on the subject of food.

I think I may be one of the only students here who actually cooks. (Tonight it's japanese-style chicken, with stir-fried vegetables and rice). I can see how this comes about. Cooking requires food shopping, which requires shops selling food and these are in pretty short supply.

We have Piggly Wiggly, whose glamorous name belies its contents; although a superstore about the size of a usual Tesco, it seems to sell virtually nothing I count as food and lots more varieties of crisps (sorry, chips), processed ham and cheese than I thought the market could ever possibly sustain. Then there's Fuller's, which is much the same but a bit cheaper. There's the Greensboro Farmer's Co-op, which I long to visit (apparently they have fresh herbs!), but when does a student who works from 9am to 7pm have time to make their opening hours, when co-ordinating a stop-off at Piggly Wiggly is also beyond organisation sometimes? Pam, an outreach student from last year, has started a vegetable garden with the girls at the local detention centre, but apparently the wardens won't touch its produce; it's freshness must be suspicious.

As I don't yet have my own vehicle, I always go shopping with someone else. Mine is the only shopping basket so far to contain a fresh fruit or vegetable. And the quality is terrible. The only people who complain are the girls from LA who turn their noses up at everything and whine for organic milk, and Frank, the eccentric German 2nd year tutor, who complains loudly and often ('this is disgusting, how can you eat this shit') and has found company in Elena, Andrew Freear's Italian girlfriend. Everyone else seems happy with microwave lasagne or peanut butter sandwiches.

But what is astonishing is how cheap it is to eat out. On 'Taco Tuesday' at the local Mexican, a taco costs $1.25 and a margarita $2.75. For the price of a pint of London Pride you can eat 2 tacos and a fiendishly strong margarita, supplemented by piles of free chips and salsa. When we were in Memphis we ate at the downtown (and only) franchise of Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken (and it was that good) and a full plate of chicken, fries and slaw, with beer, came to around $7.

The sprawling strips lining any major road are packed with signs advertising food at ridiculous prices. It is disturbing to wonder where it all comes from - the milllions of chickens, lobsters and steaks that are being consumed in these fried chicken/grill/steak and seafood houses - and even more so to consider that their staff must be paid next to nothing. A meal's worth of food from a supermarket is expensive in comparison.

I know where all the catfish comes from, however; the miles of catfish ponds, shimmering in the sun, that surround Greensboro, the Catfish Capital, and its factories some call the new plantations.



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