For The Flan Of It... (Part 2)

One of the main reasons I wanted to do Flan for the dessert course was because it is always a hit around my house when we make Spanish food when our families come into town.   Titi Martha makes Ropa Vieja and Black Beans, Abuela makes Arroz con Gondules, and I make Flan.  That's just how it is.  We all gather around the table with stupidly happy, giddy faces and grins a mile wide as we eat until we practically explode...then we eat dessert and drink Cuban coffee and commence to loud talking, telling stories, and laughing or crying...depends on the day and who is there.  

A slightly blurry picture of us gathered around our dinner table swapping stories
and polishing off dessert after some Ropa Vieja, Black Beans and Rice and Maduros.

I really wanted people to experience this family style of eating...even if just for one day.   We pushed complete strangers together to eat at the same long table...and strangely enough, after a half hour or so, it started to feel like a family...talking loudly, laughing louder, and sharing new experiences with one another.   We wanted this event to be an experience that they would remember, so in between the courses, the chefs came out and talked about their dishes, and Laura spoke about the sources of the foods they were consuming.  She is so passionate about what she is doing, and I think it shows in the way she speaks about her farmers and suppliers.  She actually has a relationship with the people that she is sourcing her food from and goes weekly to their farms and places to see the crops growing and pick up different meat and handmade items that she carries in the store.  


Last year, we did an event together and had her produce and food at the same booth as my deodorant and other products.  I had open testers in small mason jars with spoon like scoops in it for people to try it on their skin.  I know my scents smell like food, because that is how I make them.  That day in the tester jar, I had my especially delicious smelling Lush Lemon deodorant (which smells like a lemon pound cake, complete with icing and all) out for display and testing...and don't you know, I was coming back from break and walking back up to our booth just as this cute little lady has the spoon up to her lips about to pop it in her mouth.  

I ran up behind her so fast and literally smacked the spoon out of her surprised hand all while yelling "noooooo...doooonnn't eeeeaaat itttt!" (this is the part that felt like slow motion)  She had been taste testing the other items on our table in little cups with spoons and I guess she felt like my deodorant was just an extension of those taste tests...never mind the sign that said DEODORANT (honestly, I don't think she looked at it at all, she just smelled it, and her brain said, YEP, smells good, go ahead and eat it.  The funny thing about this story is it didn't happen just once that day, it happened again a few hours later, right before closing.  This time, I caught it in time and didn't have to smack the spoon out of her hand like a mad man.

With all that being said, I am proud to be one of the vendors that Laura carries in her store, and I think she is proud to have my stuff in her store.  "We are on the same team," she says, "we have to educate people more on knowing where their stuff and food comes from, and the impact it has on their health, the community, and the environment."  I agree with her and that is one of the reasons I started making Shoogie in the first place and have since started doing educational classes at one of the hospital facilities here in Ocala.  

Laura, myself, and Mrs. Sheila, a local art teacher, started an educational class that educates and teaches people to cook using seasonal, local produce, make a handmade body care product, and decorate that handmade product using art supplies.  We just had our first one this winter, and I am waiting for spring to arrive for our next one.  In the meantime, we are looking for a bigger, more central location for her store in downtown Ocala.  I am looking forward to being able to do product demonstrations there and teach people to do for themselves what they never thought they could do.  It will be a place where we can bring people together to eat, socialize, and learn...a place to make memories with old friends and new...to exist and enjoy the company of others...to gather around and be happy...so wish us luck and check out the products I do have available at either her store, or on the website www.shoogiecompany.com  


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