I had planned on posting a picture here… of the condiments in my refrigerator… to show a variety of jellies and sauces and spreads ….all similar …competing with one another …but none outshining the other. But I can’t. And this to me ….means I’m doing better…at stocking my pantry and fridge with smaller batch delicacies. …getting away from what I like to call ‘Cookie Cutter Condiments.’ Let me clarify… The grocery store aisles are tremendous and filled with so many decisions. Who needs the luxury of having 20 or so different bbq sauces, etc to choose from? Just like the art in my home… the originals outshine any of the mass produced framed prints I picked up in a weak moment from TJ Maxx. Original art has a story ….and so do original, artisan food products.
Just the other day…I had the pleasure of lunching at a true original restaurant in Atlanta. Chef Steven Satterfield of Miller Union brought over a sampling of the pickles and boiled peanuts he serves at his southern inspired restaurant. There were ice box pickles …from his grandmother’s recipe, bread ‘n butters, pickled peaches, cherry tomatoes, and okra. They were all delicious…but what made them truly special was the ‘story’ behind them. Without a story…they are just like my own ….just pickles that anyone could re-create. Chef Satterfield has a story and passion …stemming from his roots in South Georgia ….and because of his story and his passion shining in every plate he presents….I’ll be back!
I’m always amazed at the people that keep coming back to my tent at the market each week. Many of them turn in their empty jars and purchase more… sometimes the same variety they tried the week before…and sometimes they’ll try something new from me. I especially love hearing about the children that request my pickles every day! Makes me smile! I’m happy to share pickling tips and don’t even mind sharing my recipe. After all… it’s an old recipe that we’ve tweaked a bit …but anyone could make my pickles. ….just not anybody can sell ’em like we do! 😉 I believe the success I’m growing into is because of the *story.* Without having a story mixed in with the passion I have for keeping things local and sustainable… my pickle company wouldn’t stand out next to any of the others …well, except for taste. haha!
It was just another house to everyone else… but for me, it was a big chunk of my story. I had drawn the plan for it on a piece of graph paper and my husband built it for me. I started my pickle company in my kitchen there…and sold my pickles from the front porch. We had to move last October. It felt as if I was leaving a chunk of my heart there…because for me… it was not just another cookie cutter house. It was the home to my passion….my story. It was an *original.*
And then along came another local *original!* Artist, Jamie Calkin recreated that house for me….so now, I’ll always have it. …and now, I don’t have to clean it’s windows. I am so excited about plans I have for future lables for my pickles. I will be using the paintings he did of my house and the porch where I first sold my pickles. It will be like my *story* will be wrapped around every jar. …and that’s just SWEET!
Cookie cutters are useful …for shaping biscuits and cookies and pancakes….even poached eggs. But…they don’t have anything to do with the flavor and quality inside. A large production facility can mass produce products and stick flashy labels on and roll them out the door and on a big truck to markets all across the country …and the globe. But without a story and a passion for quality, locally sourced, naturally grown ingredients… they are just cookie cutter condiments. I’m hoping this little post will inspire you to pay attention to the stories behind the products you purchase. There have been many articles lately… poking fun at the ‘over-used’ word: artisan. …suggesting that the word artisan pulls no weight anymore …with it being used by fast food chains and Dominos Pizza. But…yes, artisan products are real. I know plenty! Look for a good, honest, farmers market and support the ARTISANS there …who are (even in this mass-produced crazed world) still using their own hands to artfully combine locally sourced ingredients to form delicious treats for you and me. And…these are the people who are truly supporting the farmers right where we all live.
It takes a lot of hard work to continue to be a true artisan even in the face of government inspections and a declining economy…. for an inspiring story of a true artisan family producing sometimes sweet, sometimes savory and sometimes HOT jams and jellies in Georgia… check out the story of Fairywood Thicket Farm in Fairburn, GA. Their sweet STORY is a quick read and will bless you today! Find it on their website: http://www.fairywoodthicket.com