My interest in food that originates from the ground (and not, let’s say, the teet or the slaughterhouse) is relatively new. I remember interviewing a coworker about her favorite types of food and typing, with disgust, that she loves Spring and Summer because of the wares from her garden. She was team veggie. I was team butter-rosemary-garlic-chicken-pork. Especially pork.
Two things changed. First, this damn locavore movement. I’d made some recent life decisions that propelled me from everything I’d known for three years. (I left a church.) Somehow I knew that my next step in life would involve community and food. I whimpered a few blocks over to my friend Susan (a master of both) who thrust that Pollan book into my hands. I’d be studying a new gospel.
Second, a prescription. Over the years, my experimentation with fresh produce brought me to an understanding with the Lord that heartburn and itchy lips were a sign from above that I should not veer from my butter-rosemary-garlic-chicken-pork diet. In an act of defiance, I stumbled from my faith in pork and tried modern science. And my doctor giveth me Prilosec. And I was happy. (And fatter; not only could I consume tomatoes without pain, but also white wine: an entire food group I’d been fasting from for years.)
And guess what? Now I like salads! (And butter-rosemary-garlic-chicken-pork. You can like both! There’s a gray area in life, a concept that I’ve paid many a shrink to help me discover.)
There’s also a pink area. And a gooey and awesome bright yellow area, once you break open that heavenly soft poached egg (that somehow went straight from one of God’s creatures and directly into the kitchen at Sage American Bistro). This, friends, is my favorite salad in Columbus. It combines animals and plants. There’s no dilemma here: just eat it in a way that doesn’t involve lifting the plate and dumping it directly into your mouth. Try to use utensils. Each bite magically contains hearty smoky bacon in thick but bite-size pieces, that aforementioned warm egg, soft hidden morsels of goat cheese, pickled onion, freshly cracked peper and a tangy dressing. It’s cool. It’s warm. All salads should be like this. And once Michael Pollan is President of Food, Chef Glover needs to be given some sort of cabinet position involving pork.
My one year of Girl Scouts taught me procrastination (I never did sew on any of those badges) and a song: Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver but the other’s gold. This is the silver salad, a new one to cross my palate. Named in honor of the spinach growers, this Wayward Seed Farm-based salad is currently found at Latitude 41.* Textured and inconsistent in size, this spinach is the real thing (and a gentle reminder that it’s kind of creepy that mass-produced food somehow comes out of the ground in the same shape, size and color). Paired with smoky heart of palm, citrus, edamame the color of Spring and lightly dressed, this (presumably vegan) salad comes out having a sort of meaty flavor. If that’s possible. With a good chef and locally grown ingredients, all things are possible, right?
* It’s rumored that dear Chef David MacLennan is leaving. These are my food prayers for Latitude 41. One: That Chef MacLennan lands in a creative kitchen somewhere in Columbus, so that I can continue to eat his incredible food. Two: That whoever fills his void is as inspirational as he has been. Three: That the marketing angels that oversee the Latitude 41 website will remove the music from the front page, and let them not judge my motive in saying this. I am not bitter that while every other woman from my table the evening that video was shot is shown smiling and drinking, I am glaringly absent. I get it. I looked homeless. Homeless people don’t look sexy on restaurant websites. Just lose the music, okay? Amen.
P.S. I do show up on the site in this slide show. See all the sleek people? I’m next to them.
Sage American Bistro
2653 North High Street
50 North 3rd. Street