Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Curry Co-op

I have always loved the idea of a co-op……or any sort of system based on bartering. The ethos of pooling resources and skills for the common good gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

The first time I had any real interaction with such a notion was 9 years ago. I spent 6 months living on an island off the coast of Ireland. During the peak summer months I had a full time job working in one of the hostels. With a steady income, free accommodation and only minimal retail opportunities to deplete such funds I either bought whatever I wanted in the one and only exorbitant supermarket or ate out willy-nilly without giving it a second thought.

However as the tourist traffic tapered off, the work dried up and I had to reconsider my situation… did most of my friends relient on seasonal four of us decided to move into together to cut back on costs, in a hope it would prevent an early departure from the island.

Once the work stopped all together we were forced to re-assess our food supply situation. The two of us who were comfortable with all aspects of fishing took on the task of catching Mackerel off the rocks and the other two of us who were a bit more sensitive towards seeing the innards of sea creatures opted for working in the local organic veggie patch in return for fresh produce. For any other necessities we dipped into what little money we had saved over summer….and combined, we managed to cover the costs. One house member was entitled to rent assistance and the dole and so they volunteered to use this to cover the cost of having a roof over our heads. A sporadic gig for the two musicians of the house would bring in some extra cash which went straight towards maintaining our idyllic co-op lifestyle that we were becoming quite accustomed to. We ceased buying peat for the fire and used our unemployed time to collect driftwood off the shore. Life was wonderfully simple.

This system kept us going for a few extra months….until the depths of winter took hold of the island and forced us away…….departing was sad and I wept as I pulled away from the pier…..…but I left having experienced some of the best moments of my life in those six months……. I learnt so many things that I have carried with me ever since, in particular a deeper awareness of the core aspects of life…….food, warmth and shelter…..and that co-op living is essentially just sharing what you have with those around you…

A co-op can exist at so many scales and after some contemplation I have come to the conclusion that last Saturday we had a micro co-op of our own without realising. Sort of a curry co-op if you will. Ten friends of 4 different nationalities….none of which may I add list curry as their national cuisine, got together for lunch on the premise they must be accompanied by a curry of some sort. What eventuated represented all the admirable qualities of a co-op.

‘Members’ of this micro co-op brought along a Green Lamb Korma, a mixed vegetable curry, roasted aubergines, a beautifully bright tomato and coriander salad, bowls of raita, a delicious marinated chicken curry with yoghurt, an extremely tender Beef Rogan Josh, a fiery Prawn Balchao, tomato chutney, lime pickle, mango chutney, a Thai Green Chicken curry, a Beef Massaman curry, bread and rice. Some brought along beer, others plucked bottles of wine from their bags, there was a great big chocolate mud cake, ice cream and coffee. Some members turned up with their instruments and provided the entertainment with music and song while others washed and cleaned up. One special little member provided endless amusement with her gorgeous little smile and warm cuddles. Everyone brought something to the table, metaphorically speaking as much as physically.

…..and the sum of all the parts made for a perfect afternoon……


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there!
Great blog - very enjoyable to read about that meal! Makes me wish I was there. Hang on a sec - I WAS there!
And what a meal it was last Saturday. The walk in between 'courses' was fabulous too. That's a great location you have there. I've added your blog to my list of faves, and you'll have to check out my blog at By now, you've figured out who this is from. It's not about food but it should be. It's not as good as your blog either.
Thanks again!

3:59 pm  

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