This past weekend my sweetie and I went to the Topsfield Fair, a large agricultural fair. It was full of everything you'd expect - barns with beautiful livestock (it's good to remember where the meat we eat comes from)(there was one cow who was, I swear, a ham. She loved having her picture taken and got sulky when no one was nearby), giant pumpkins (the winner was over 1,400 lbs, yikes), a midway with games and rides, infomercials everywhere, and of course, food. Cider, fried dough, hot dogs, turkey legs, french fries, on and on and on.
My favorite bite was a hot cider donught and a cup of hot cider. The worst was a texas onion ring, covered with so much slightly-off batter I couldn't finish one. The smells were overwhelming.
When we got home all I really wanted was something clean and simple. The next day for dinner I made a butternut squash. I quartered it (actually, Kevin chopped it up with a cleaver for me - those suckers are tough), scraped out the seeds, then put it in an inch or so of water with salt and pepper. I microwaved it for about 12 minutes until it was tender then scraped out the flesh and called it done. It tasted clean and fresh, like autumn. The kitchen smelled like something pure. Not frying fat. As I ate it I imagined the long green vine that it grew on. The sound of the barkers voices faded form my mind, the texas onion ring finally left my palate. The fair was fun, but this, oh this was home.
(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer