Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where I'm from

We all come from somewhere. If we're lucky, it's somewhere really cool. I would really like to be from an Xtreme place like, I don't know, Newfoundland. Unfortunately, I'm from a little known place in California called the Bay Area. At one point, there were actual towns separated by actual green space. Now, it's a jumble of highways and ugly strip malls. The weather remains fantastic if a teensy little bit smog filled.

San Jose (my illustrious home town) used to be a major agricultural powerhouse and home to many, many orchards. Over the past 40 years of Silicon Valley Fever, these beautiful stone fruit trees have been dozed into glass-fronted monstrosities ringed with parking lots. The last orchard by my house was plowed into highway 85 in about 1993. Sadness. Progress.

One little hold out remains. My mom's friend found this place, buried in the middle of stucco behemoths and 85. It is Santa Clara County's last working orchard. An oasis in the desert of consumerist expectations and raped prime agricultural soil. Much of it was destroyed via eminent domain, but it stands defiantly selling produce on the honor system.
The stand
The honor system of payment

The list of produce through the season (April through November) is impressive. What this valley could produce due to exceptional soils and good climate is nothing short of an Eden. Berries, 4 types of peaches, olives, apples, guavas, pomegranates, persimmons, grapes. You name it, they grow it.
The lovely, pointed note.

The pomegranates and olives were just coming in. It smelled alive there. This field is owned by the Cosentino family. They also own my very favorite grocery store (of the same name). I went there and just had to pet all the produce that was not only varied, abundant, and fresh but reasonably priced. I also had to buy very expensive cheese (REAL English Stilton, Humboldt Creamery blue goat cheese, and Imported Pecorino) and charcuterie (Prosciutto, Coppa, and Landjaeger).

Pomegranate tree. Don't they look like jewels?
Olive tree, heavy and fragrant.

Sorry to crab about soil related destruction. Between a movie about the 3 gorges dam and spending my childhood wildlands turned into infrastructure I'm feeling a bit adrift in the world. It breaks my heart to see food-producing areas turned into a parking lot. There's only so many years we can shoot ourselves in the foot before we lose our ability to walk.


  1. On point, well written. Touche and brava.

  2. OK, I have to get your mom to take me to this orchard now. Were there persimmons?