Although we don’t plan our issues with any particular theme, this third issue of Edible Baja Arizona resonates with the notions of intrepidity, variability, permutations, and adaptability across a range of story subjects.
Paying nuanced and constant attention to the messages encoded in weather, soil, plants, and animals comes into play whether you’re pioneering Cochise County ranchers Dennis and Deb Moroney, nationally renowned for their model of “collaborative conservation” to sustainably produce grass-fed beef, or one of the many stalwart winemakers around Sonoita and Willcox who are coaxing grapes out of varied arid soils, constantly adjusting their expectations and expertise to make increasingly outstanding wines. Veteran Tucson journalist Dan Sorenson writes the definitive story on the coming of age of Baja Arizona’s burgeoning wine industry, and essayist Nicole Walker probes the nuances of climate change and soils in pursuit of an authentic desert terroir for area vintages. Megan Kimble profiles the life work of the Moroneys and explores the bottleneck in local beef production.
Gary Paul Nabhan contributes two pieces to this issue: A profile of the legendary grower Ed Curry, a genius that sees the world through the lens of a chile pod. And in his essay on the empowering role that growing food can have for the poor, he says “I have come to believe that getting fresh, diverse, and nutritious foods into the hands of the nutritionally-at-risk is the highest goal that we can set for change in our food system.”
Eating with the fullest pleasure—pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance—is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living in a mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.
We pulled out all the stops for a photo and recipe spread for a Heritage Holiday Feast. Tucson food artisan Amy Valdés Schwemm developed the menu based on local and heritage ingredients, and prepared and staged the dishes in a marathon daylong photo shoot at the studio of Steven Meckler. The results are nothing less than stunning and delicious. Thanks, Amy!
Regular contributor Dave Mondy goes behind the scenes at Tucson’s newest purveyor of spirited joy at Hamilton Distillers, the creators of single malt whiskeys, including a unique mesquite smoked variety. Intrepidity, indeed.
In a fascinating story, Moses Thompson goes on a quest to a remote village in Sonora to meet the makers of the lauded but little known Langford Tools, which are prized for their design and durability, reflecting an agricultural heritage that is driven by necessity.
Our resident curator of heritage Sonoran foodways Bill Steen will help you get a clue about the quince, an amazing and obscure fruit, and perhaps you, too, will fall head over heels with it. Linda Ronstadt sat down with us to remember childhood food memories.
And there’s much, much more in an issue that will probably take you weeks to read. It was our pleasure putting it together and we hope you enjoy it and the coming holiday season. Speaking of which: A subscription to Edible Baja Arizona is by far the perfect gift for any locavore on your list. Simplify your life and give several!
Lastly: Our deepest thanks to our intrepid advertisers, whose support of our mission to grow a strong local foods economy in Baja Arizona makes this endeavor possible. Please remember to patronize them often and express your gratitude for their support.
We’ll see you around the table. ¡Salud!
—Douglas Biggers, editor and publisher