In the back corner of Portland’s Enso Winery, past the warm, dark hued tasting room and into the brightly lit production space, I found Fossil and Fawn’s Jenny Mosbacher in a giant plastic square fermenter, pants-less and shoveling buckets of freshly fermented grapes, skins, and various other grape parts into a cylindrical wine press. From a distance, her head and shoulders were the only thing visible, each scoop and subsequent pouring necessitating a little extra muscle to lift her body closer to the press: scooping and pouring, scooping and pouring, gruelingly adding the precious Pinot Noir grapes into the narrow device. Her legs stained a burgundy hue, each scoop-and-pour had encouraged the gradual dissolution of her pulled-together ponytail and expertly perched glasses into a portrait of flyaways and cheek-coating juice stains under nose-sliding glasses. Every few minutes, Jenny’s partner Jim Fischer made gleeful comments like “just give me the Beyonce thigh, please”; he’d have been in the fermentor too, he joked, if he had remembered to shave his legs.
"The advantage of industrialization is that you get consistency," Shaun Winter stated succinctly on a hot summer afternoon outside of The Fresh Pot in North Portland. With a sentiment like that, we could have been talking about anything, from the cups of coffee in front of each us, to the qualities of the neighborhood we sat in. Beyond its mix of one-of-a-kind stores, this stretch of North Portland contains more than a few Portland-area chains like Laughing Planet, and yes, The Fresh Pot.
Have you ever thought about your most vivid food memories? I’m talking about the ones you recall again and again, in conversation or while alone, unexpectedly reminded of a dish at a restaurant or friends’ house, the flavors suddenly transporting you away from the present moment to last year – or even decades ago. My food memories don’t seem to follow a logical path: they’re not a collection of the best meals I’ve eaten, though a few are, and they’re not always about the company I was with, though that plays a factor, too. Rather, they seem to be clustered around the perfect representation of salt, sugar, and fat. Though I have happy, content memories of cooking dinner with seasonal, fresh eggplant, squash, okra, peaches, of canning and preserving, of a kale salad lovely in its simplicity, if pressed to recall the food memories that can transport me exactly back to a specific scene, chances are butter and salt, and copious amounts of it, played a prominent role.