I got an order for two cases of vinegar recently from my friends at Rocket Bakery.
Not exactly a stop-the-presses moment but it got me thinking about connection and the power of community.
Way back when, pre-pandemic, pre-Petty Harbour, pre-Instagram even, I got the crazy idea to add alegar (AKA beer vinegar) to my table of wares at the original St. John’s Farmer’s Market (Lion’s Club version).
Liam (resident sour puss and chief bringing-Janet-down-to-earth officer) said, and I quote, “it’s not as easy as you think.”
I didn’t listen to him. And by the way, he was right (as usual).
But I DID listen to advice from my friend Kelly Mansell of Rocket Bakery re. marketing our product. And wow am I ever glad I did.
I don’t remember many conversations in my life (thank you late diagnosed ADHD!) but I distinctly recall the conversation with Kelly about what to name my concoction.
I still think alegar, meaning sour beer, is a cool word. It derives from the French word aigre, meaning to turn sour. The word vinegar means essentially wine that has gone sour. Alegar is even mentioned in medieval recipe books as an important flavouring when cooking.
But as Kelly pointed out, no one will know what it means.
Then I considered Stout Vinegar – back then we were making NBV from one specific kind of beer – an Irish stout.
But as Kelly pointed out, somebody’s Aunt Jane in Ohio won’t know what that means either.
But, Kelly went on to say, Aunt Jane will know the words “beer” and “vinegar.” And she’ll know her niece or nephew or family friend has brought her back a souvenir from the most easternly part of North America, an island in the North Atlantic called Newfoundland.
Fast forward a few years later and thankfully Rocket Bakery and Wild Mother Provisions have weathered several storms and are both still standing. I am so grateful that local institutions like Rocket Bakery, the Bees Knees and others took a chance on our beer vinegar way back when.
And I’m doubly thankful to Kelly for understanding the Aunt Janes of the world.
It takes a village.