“This box really stinks!” These are not the words I want to hear out of the mouth of my favorite FEDEX delivery person on a Friday afternoon. Here in Pagosa we don’t get deliveries on Saturday so if something isn’t right on Friday this creates a bit of a problem for us. I was sort of tired, about to grab a break before four new rooms check in and it had already been a challenging sort of day. The box in question was extremely large, shiny silver one with Honolulu Seafood printed across the side. Yes, I know it’s eat local month out there in the blogosphere and there are those who are probably saying it serves me right for importing, but local products are somewhat limited here. Anyway, I knew the box was full of langoustines so as she carted in two more large packages I carefully sliced open the fish box. The langoustines were beautiful, rosy and lively looking in neat rows. They were packed in layers of ice and ice packs in a Styrofoam lined box (apologies to the environmentalists but nothing else works quite as well for these purposes). The Styrofoam was fitted together but not sealed. As I frantically dug to the bottom of the box to locate the source of the smell, I discovered that there was a layer of Styrofoam peanuts, as a cosmic revenge, on the bottom of the box. All of the langoustines on the bottom were coated with them. Picking them out of each shell was not exactly an edifying pastime. When I reached the bottom I realized that the juices that had leaked from all of those pretty pink bodies had seeped through the box, cooking in the delivery trucks and creating the fragrant aroma of rotten fish. It was a false alarm and the FEDEX lady and I were both relieved.
As she left I turned to the other two boxes, both on the large side. The bigger of the two was from the Chef’s Garden. It was about three feet long but would be relatively easy to unpack and check-in. Everything inside the box would be in smaller quantities. The other box contained a whole pig, a sixty-five pound pig. Did I mention that Alex had gone to the airport to pick up some of our arriving guests? I was on my own here. I suppose I could have found a housekeeper to help me but they were pretty busy at the moment and I knew I could handle it. I was so glad that there were no cameras around as I tried to heave this extremely slippery, extremely large (for me) pig out of its box. It was a bit of a dance for a while but I finally prevailed and got it laid out so that I could check its condition. It was another pretty specimen, pink and white (the vegetarians probably hate me today too), slightly bruised but not unduly so, fresh and almost smiling. We have big plans for this pig but you’ll find out about those later.
Opening the last box was a pleasure. The intoxicating perfume of the French Loupes filled the air and the vegetables were mostly beautiful and easy to unpack. We got some fresh garbanzo beans which I've never tried before. They were a revelation, green and crunchy and still very chick pea like in flavor. Another new find was petite mixed okra, perfect for frying or sautéing whole and about the size of my pinky. Deliveries by mail are a bit of a crapshoot and it’s a nice day when they all work out. Usually we order a bit more than we need to compensate and usually that ends up being a good thing, today we’ll have to do a bit of preserving. This is never a bad thing, who knows what new twist we’ll come up with. Of course, I’ll probably smell like langoustines for days, but if I can’t live with that I’m definitely in the wrong business. Well, back to the kitchen I go.