Letter: Anchorage is not just for carnivores (Opinion)
(Re: Callie’s Cabin published Jan. 3 in print, Jan. 5 online)
I read the Jan. 5 column from “Callie’s Cabin” with interest because author Cal Orey visited Anchorage, Alaska, one of my adopted home towns and a city I think I know intimately.
It’s a bummer that in the second sentence, Orey reported Alaska’s official state nickname, “The Last Frontier” incorrectly.
But Orey goes on to offer thin reporting, crazy assumptions and incorrect facts about the food that’s available in Alaska.
Your readers live in the real world and I can assure them Anchorage restaurants are not “for carnivores only.”
Orey’s article throws an entire city’s restaurant scene under the ford truck while reporting on one dining experience. And it was from a visit when she attempted to order a sandwich that, according to her own reporting, was not offered on the menu.
Anchorage is in northern climate, but it’s also a town with more than one-quarter million residents and it’s the largest food marketplace in Alaska. There are, in fact, hothouse veggies grown in Anchorage. There are also a handful of restaurants where diners walk between pots of wheatgrass and other living plants while on their way to wash their hands.
And yet, Orey does the disservice of telling your readers “fresh food is scarce in December.”
The fact is Orey didn’t find fresh food. She also doesn’t report looking for any. That’s not the work of journalism, an art in which reporting ought to be the main ingredient.
We live in 2020 and box of living lettuce grown in California’s Central Valley contains – surprise – living lettuce, no matter if the box is opened in Anchorage or in the Tahoe Basin.
Here’s a tip for winter-time diners who find themselves in a northern climate. Let the locals lead you to their favorite seasonal foods.
Keep in mind that for several millennia people in four-season environments have used root cellars for produce.
The modern equivalent is a climate controlled warehouse in Anchorage. Or a similar warehouse near Pleasanton, California, headquarters of the old-school grocery chain that serves both Anchorage and Tahoe. (My apologies to that other grocery chain that bought them. Good luck with the merger)
When dining in Alaska, I would recommend Alaska-grown carrots. That’s because carrots store well and because carrot plants vigorously store sugars in their roots as temperatures drop.
Taste for yourself, but I can tell you a carrot grown in Alaska will be sweeter than a Central Valley carrot even if the two are grown from the same variety of seed.
Just don’t store carrots and lettuce side-by-side. Lettuce, like many plants, creates fumes that can fill a refrigerator bin or even a warehouse. Carrots – remember, they are desperate to store sugar – absorb the fumes of some greens.
A carrot without its natural sugar will become either bland or bitter. That carrot will be about as tasteful as journalism without reporting.
Scott Christiansen, South Lake Tahoe
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