provisions[ plural ]
UK /prəˈvɪʒ.ənz/ US /prəˈvɪʒ.ənz/
provisions for the journey
Cambridge Dictionary (n.d)
The past few weeks have been interesting. Like everyone else, we have been in lockdown in our house in Sydney.
But unlike a lot of people, Mr T, Marc, Anne and I, are no strangers to self-isolation. Years of cruising around the world meant a dozen ocean passages and remote anchorages with no one around to socialise with.
It wasn’t always fun, and cabin fever hit many a times, to the extent that, in the later years made a point of joining other family boats when we could. For everybody’s sanity. But that was the trade-off for a life of adventure and excitement, where freedom and autonomy were the guiding principles. And we survived, learning to be patient, to occupy ourselves, to appreciate each other’s company and to admire what nature has to offer. More importantly, we never stopped counting our blessing for being in good health, on a safe and well maintained boat, with plenty of provisions to see us to our next destination.
I guess what I am saying is, that we approached this 2020 lockdown as, yet, another long ocean passage ( with the added bonus of internet and non-stop connections now). Fortunate enough to have a roof over our heads, the ability to work and study from home, stay in touch with family and friends online, we have been focusing on “getting to the other side”, keeping healthy and well fed.
With Mr T and I initially considered “at risk”, we started our quarantine earlier than most people. The kids were sent grocery shopping a couple of times and D dropped off a few items as well, until I decided it would be easier for all of us, if we had everything home delivered. It started with the supermarket for all non-perishables. Then, our beloved Farmer’s Markets closed, but thankfully a lot of the stall holders “pivoted” to provide online ordering and home delivery. It probably wasn’t the business model they had in mind, but rolling with the punches is the order of the day and this is how we’ve managed to buy our meat and seafood in the past few weeks.
As for our fruits and vegetables, I initially thought I would grow my own. Seriously, this idea lasted 2 days, until I found out about the Community Organic Project, a local collective offering a weekly box delivery. I started the subscription when we couldn’t leave the house due to full lockdown, and loved it so much that I am still using the service all these weeks later. All produce are organic, sourced from farmers and businesses by Alison. While we have a choice of small or large-sized box, there is no saying in what will be in the box. Alison picks whatever looks good that morning, trying to balance basics like tomatoes and apples, with exotic items for people to try, such as finger limes or cavalo nero. I love the variety and personally look forward to my “Mystery Wednesday Box”, as it takes me out of the cooking rut I sometimes find myself in. So far, I have been experimenting with jerusalem artichoke chips, eggplant gratin and even roasted white choko!
The fruit offerings though not as varied, are plentiful. Bananas and oranges are the first to disappear, while grapes and apples somewhat always end up in juices or cakes.
I would not go as far to say that our diet is plant based, but we certainly eat a lot more vegetables than we used to, as a result of this new way of provisioning.
Take this provision salad. I first came across it while cruising in Trinidad, 15 years ago. I used to think it was named after the variety of ingredients, then realised it comes from using starchy root vegetables like yams, taro, cassava, or sweet potatoes known in the Caribbean diet as “ground provisions”. In the Caribbeans, these are available year round, they keep stored for a long time, and provide a good source of carbohydrate at a very economical price. For that reason, it used to be a staple on the boat.
It is an easy mix of root and green vegetables, herbs and a dressing. There are no real rules, any veggies you have on hand will do, as will any kind of dressing. Traditionally, people will cut the provisions into cubes, and dice the rest of the vegetables. I am lazy, and tend to cut mine in wedges or rough chunks. The texture might be different but the flavours stay the same.
This is still one of my favourite veggie dish. Not only because it is the perfect way to use up items on their last leg in the crisper, but also because it brings any grilled meat to life! And takes me back to lazy beach barbecues in the Caribbean islands.
Serves 4-6 , as a side
1 kg sweet potatoes ( or any ground provisions, such as taro root or yams ), peeled, boiled and cut into wedges
1 red capsicum, sliced
1 celery stalk ( leaves included ) , sliced ( leaves chopped )
1 handful of salad leaves
1 small cooked beetroot, peeled and cubed
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 shallot, trimmed and chopped
1 handful parsley
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 red wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp dijon mustard
- In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes with the capsicum, celery, green leaves, beetroot, shallots and parsley.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk until you have a thick emulsion.
- Add to the provision mix and toss to coat evenly.
- Garnish with extra parsley and refrigerate until ready to serve.