A question I contemplated years ago was, “What is the minimum number of foods a person needs in their pantry so they can whip up something delicious in just 20 to 30 minutes”? After all, the alphabet has only 26 letters, yet the Oxford dictionary lists 171,476 words made with various combinations of those letters. What could a person make with 26 “just right” food items in their pantry? That would be the ingredients ABC’s!
The next question I asked was “How many foods are there in the world”? Think about all the different foods grown in various geographical regions around the earth. Take cinnamon for example. Most people think the cinnamon commonly available at the grocery store is the only kind there is, but did you know that the genus of cinnamon has 250 different species? Cinnamon comes in four forms – sticks, chips, powder, and oil. That’s potentially a thousand different kinds of cinnamon, each with subtle distinctions in flavor. Or how’z about lemons? Surprise! There are 30 different varieties. The sort typically found at the supermarket is called Lisbon, but there are also Buddha’s Hand, Meyer, and 27 more.
Many foods are made with the same ingredient but are produced in different ways, such as cheese. There are thousands and thousands of cheeses, each made with only milk and/or cream, but created by unique methods. Each culture/region has its own indigenous version.
In the late winter, I like to flip through the five-hundred page “Whole Seed Catalogue” which lists hundreds, if not thousands of heirloom fruits, vegetables, and edible flowers. The catalogue explodes with beautiful photographs and mouth-watering descriptions of varieties not often seen in a grocery store. That’s just one seed catalogue; there are many others.
The possible food combinations are endless. I am so thankful to have this huge kaleidoscope of foods available to give me boundless fodder for discovery and adventure. I can browse the world of food just by standing in an aisle at an ethnic grocery store or perusing a website.
This Thanksgiving, I will take a moment to contemplate the unfathomable generosity of Mother Earth and the extraordinary playground she provides. Here, we can endlessly explore and discover the world of food among other things. What a sensory delight! I will thank Father Sun, as well, for giving her the power to create. Pondering on these musings evokes in me deep feelings of joy and my spirit expands with fullness. I love this big blue marble I call home and the tens of millions of letters in Mother Earth’s food alphabet. Oh my! That’s a lot of letters, isn’t it? To infinity and beyond!