Re-Thinking Mass Production

An interesting thing that I forgot to mention about Kauai is that it’s overrun with wild chickens.  Many of the roosters and even some of the hens are very beautiful.  We asked some of the locals where all the chickens came from, and heard two very distinct stories.  One was that in 1992 they were blown in by a typhoon.  The other story involved Philipino immigrants who brought them in for cock fighting.

Another adorable thing that one sees all over the island is the PT Cruisers.  Why they’re the vehicle of choice there, I don’t know, but as the highway speeds are mostly 25 – 35 Mph I believe that has something to do with it.  Here in BC I treat the PT Cruiser like any of these other dreaded signs of inane driving: the V.W. bus, anyone with license plates that say Veteran, or any plate from Alberta.

The trip to Kauai is by now a distant memory and I’m wondering if I actually went.  If I tell people I’m just back from a trip to Hawaii they search my face and arms for a tan, and I can see their disappointment.  I feel like I’ve let them down by not being as brown as a nut.  Couldn’t they just be happy that I meet half of their expectations, ie I am a nut?

An interesting concept occurred to me this week as I was doing some baking for a loyal customer in Toronto.  She’d asked me to make her some Totally Decadent Fruitcakes in the style of my early years.  At that time, the cakes were mixed by hand, and I made them in smaller batches.

When I returned to that very artisan method of baking, I realized that most of my creative joy comes from being very small and hands-on.  It’s great to have the capacity to make 200 fruitcakes in a day, but I’m re-thinking my original goal.  If I make and sell only three thousand fruitcakes a year, and if they’re all made in this way, I think it’ll be a win-win situation.

We know home-made products, or those that taste home-made, are hard to find.  Therefore, I think over time I’ll find those loyal customers who want a gourmet product that’s been lovingly made.  Maybe I’ll be one of the last fruitcake artisans.  How sad to imagine a Christmas season filled with only Mrs. Willman’s crappy fruitcakes!

Oh well, I can’t worry about that now.  I bought super huge and gnarly pig’s ears for the dogs, and they’re too massive to be cut by garden snippers.  I found the axe and am going to head out and cut them into manageable pieces.

After that I have dinner to prepare, and as we know, after 24 years at 365 dinners a year, it does become a bit of a challenge to think of something new and interesting to make.  But hey, that’s what we food artisans do!

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