Justin and I expected our food escapades to change when we moved across the country, but I don't think either of us really anticipated how much. When we last lived in California, we were poor, we couldn't cook, and we really weren't that discerning about what we put in our mouths. Pad thai from a box? Sure! That's a staple that we should make once a week, at least. Pita bread with store bought deli meat and medium cheddar cheese stuffed inside? Mmm, sounds like dinner. For three nights in a row. We really didn't notice or care what sort of stuff was available at the supermarket.
I'm not sure what it was about Ithaca that made us interested in cooking. As I mentioned in a previous post, part of it was our addiction to Mexican food, and Ithaca's complete lack of such cuisine. Part of it, I'm sure, was the long, cold winters. It became totally and utterly normal to spend an entire Sunday indoors baking bread. We're talking nine hours straight here. And the more we did this sort of thing, the better we got, and the more fun it became.
So, the first thing you'll need to know about Modesto, the town we just moved to, is that it's in the Central Valley of California, which puts it smack in the agricultural center of the state. Considering California is one of the big agricultural centers of the world, that's saying something. Modesto itself is fairly suburban, but if you drive in any direction out of town, you hit farmland. Justin's folks grow almonds on their farm, which is about fifteen minutes from us, and their neighbors grow peaches, plums, walnuts, all sorts of stuff. My in-laws also have an acre or two of land where they grow fruits and vegetables for personal use, everything from nectarines to grapes to eggplant to pumpkins. You name it, they're growing it, plan to grow it or have grown it already.
We've gotten our fair share of food from the farm, including a big bag of nectarines that we split with some friends. But even without this resource, just walking into the produce section of the grocery store is redonkulous: bags of limes for $2, huge ripe peaches for a dollar a pound, and the tomatoes? Justin ate a piece of one a few days after we moved here and swore he hadn't eaten a real tomato in four years. Yes, they're that good. We basically don't know what to do with ourselves.
So that's the backstory for this adventure. For the last couple weeks we've been gallivanting around, painting our house, hauling furniture back from IKEA, and eating fresh everything. The only thing I haven't been able to find in grocery stores here is arugula, which is a shame, but it's also not the end of the world. Plus, I'm convinced we'll find it somewhere. And if not, well, those tomatoes can make me forget just about anything.