This week the Nashville Scene rolls over to Germantown to check out Red Bicycle coffee shop and crêperie. Find that review and other recent restaurant columns at:
As a food writer, I spend a lot of time gnawing on words, attempting to grind the grist and gristle of raw ideas into succinct and digestible prose. More often than not, it’s hard work. But every now and then, a story is so clear and beautiful, it can tell itself in just a few words.
That is the case with the saga of new Nashvillian Maria Ramos, whom I met through Conexión Américas. Maria’s story is not a food story. It’s a story of an American dream. And it is so elemental that it is inspiring, even when stripped down to the few characters I tweeted when Maria welcomed me to her store.
Originally published in Chapter16.org
It has been five years since I first asked my husband, “Why don’t we just grow our own food?” and we set out to farm our sunless quarter-acre in urban Nashville. After a half-decade of composting, weeding, and watering, I can safely declare the experiment in self-sustainability a success. But not in the way I had hoped.
If measured on a scale—not from one to ten, but an actual scale—the fruits of my labor could be tallied in ounces, not pounds. There was that handful of blueberries we harvested one year. And that sublime ear of corn the next. There has been the occasional arugula salad and the intermittent tomato, but for the most part there has been drought, excessive shade, blight, rot, and cussing. Thank God for mint, which perennially pushes through parched soil and into iced bourbon with enough fortitude to make us forget our farming heartache, at least for a cocktail hour or two. The full story