House Warming (by Patrick Martins)

House Warming Gifts are often meant to be objects that last, objects that convey a sense of permanency. When someone moves into a place there is the idea that they will live there for a long time and that a house warming gift is something that should also be around for awhile. Lamps, a coffee mug, cutlery, a piece of art — I’ve spent a lot of time over the years at antique shops and museum stores scouring shelves in the search of objects that will become a fixture in a new home. But as I got older and after I started a meat business I’ve found that, for me personally, the best gift to give (and to receive) is one that lasts only seconds but that endures as an experience that will be remembered forever.

Conspicuous consumption is defined as the spending of money on and the acquiring of luxury good and services to publicly display economic power — of the income or of the accumulated wealth of the buyer. To the conspicuous consumer, such a public display of discretionary economic power is a means of either attaining or maintaining a given social status. The gastronomic delights that make up all my house warming gifts in recent memory are foods that convey some degree of economic power — the foods are not the cheapest available — but much more importantly they convey a sense of an educated and sophisticated consumer, one who appreciates the renowned tastes and rich stories behind the world’s greatest foods.

For instance Heritage lamb chops, which are considered by chefs to be the best lamb in the nation, come from two rare breeds, including one traceable back to the times of Jesus. The Dorset Horn is a breed of sheep that spread over Dorset, Somerset, Devon, and most of Wales — in 1750 this is the breed the English with a fine palate would eat for Christmas! John Adams mentioned the Tunis in his diary, and Thomas Jefferson ordered the importation of a herd from Tunisia because he loved them so much. George Washington also bred them — one of his early legacies was the proliferation of his particular Tunis crossbreed on farms and dinner tables along the East Coast. Now that’s a gift!

A delicious food gift is one that delivers an epiphany. In many ways it’s the opposite of conspicuous consumption. A home is a place where great thing should happen and not only a place where nice things are stored. Each edible gift is even more special when you consider that its message and meaning is consumed and literally goes through us — taste memories last forever. When you add in the humane protocols, family farms and preserved farmland to the equation, then a Heritage gift is even more unique!

-Patrick Martins

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