M. F. K. Fisher used to write about cooking with the wolf at the door, back in the days of war rationing. I used to read Fisher in my first year of college, in those very broke days in which I would eat homemade rice pilaf while reading stacks of cookbooks from the college library. Her stories of cooking in very small apartments resonated, as I cooked downstairs and washed up in the dormroom bathtub. By comparison, even Fisher's wartime rations and scavenging efforts seemed lavish, and I came away from her stories with a new sense of "can do" spirit, not to mention a life-long love of nasturtiums.
Perhaps it was reading Fisher at such a formative time, but I find myself falling back on my own style of rationing and creative cooking as I ride my own little periods of feast and famine. I am very prone to periods of stocking the pantry up, followed by periods of obsessively working the pantry back down, and back again. Living in a studio apartment intensifies my lifelong obsession with the perfect balance.
No surprise then, that I found this article on running out of cooking fat from Salon's resident scavenger absolutely hilarious. Mind you, I do live in the city and it's largely my reluctance to buy butter at convenience store prices which has allowed me to get down to my very last 2 tbsp this week. But after a week of "I'd make biscuits, but . . . " I found myself laughing out loud.
Things like butter do represent the limits of foraging, I'm afraid, even in this new land of limitless wild fennel and nasturtiums.