father was a farmer. As a boy he would rise early and go into the
fields with his father to work. Clearing stones from the land was
an important job in preparing the rocky soil for cultivation. His
homeland was a volcanic island, so stones were plentiful. The job
of clearing, of digging out the stones belonged to him. Being a boy
he did not like this job very much, but he did it without complaint
because it was a necessary job, a necessary part of providing food
for his family. The rich life lessons young Salvador Sanchez learned
removing stones from his family's land in the village of Visvique,
on the Island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, off the coast
of North Africa, would serve him well and take him thousands of miles
around the world.
Jean Duff, she's been called
Duffy as long as she can remember, was born on an island, too, Long
Island. Duffy grew up and became a medical technologist working in
laboratories. The long difficult hours began to wear down this normally
bright, happy woman; she needed a vacation. She decided to take a
cruise to the Caribbean.
Sal traveled the world then
settled in the States. He took a job working for a cruise line.
There on that ship in the middle
of the clear blue Caribbean, fate brought together Salvador Sanchez
and Jean Duff and as they say, the rest is mystery. Two years later
they were married and settled on Long Island. Sal had been in the
food business since he was seventeen so he and Duffy opened a restaurant.
Soon they began a family.
When Duffy talks of motherhood,
her easy smile beams. "With children," she explains, "your capacity
to love expands." Sal and Duffy have five bright, adorable children,
Jessica, Tabitha, Xena, Shiloh and Ewen.
I requested an interview and
they invited me to their home. We sat at the kitchen table of their
19 Century farmhouse. I like kitchen tables, maybe because they remind
me of farms and places where families gather together. There is a
long hallway in their house. Neatly placed in an orderly fashion,
a row of shoes lines one entire side of that hallway. Imagine a twelve
foot long row of shoes. There are all sizes and types of shoes, even
ice skates. That row of shoes was a visible representation of life
in their home, it spoke volumes to me and I chuckled; inside I was
secretly envious of the great joy and fulfillment that family brings
to their hearts and their everyday lives.
We talk about important things
like motherhood and careers and stay at home moms and the importance
of being there to raise your children. As a young woman, Duffy wasn't
sure she wanted to settle down or even have children, but that changed.
"I can't imagine not having children. I wouldn't have missed it for
the world." Her voice fills with pride, "They are the center of my
universe, my children. They are all I want."
With the birth of their first
child, Sal and Duffy realized a need to live in the country, a return
to the soil. In the Canary Islands water is rare and cherished. Sal
knew he needed enough land for a large garden but most importantly
he needed running water, a stream. In 1988 they found such a place
in Austerlitz. Sal ran a diner in Hillsdale for a while and worked
for the White Hart in Lakeville, Connecticut. At home the family made
hummus to sell wholesale. "My dream is for my kids to learn the ethics
of work through me," Sal explains. They involved the kids in the work
process, creating an assembly line around the kitchen table and produced
three hundred pounds of hummus a week.
A few years ago Sal bought a
building on Warren Street in Hudson. His intent was to run a wholesale
business, selling hummus and other natural food products, but the
equipment he needed was quite costly and not immediately within his
financial reach. What could he do? "You don't need money," Sal tells
me, "you need ideas." So Sal and Duffy took a chance on an idea and
opened Earth Foods Restaurant. The chance paid off. Earth Foods has
become successful, now serving in excess of 1000 meals a week. It
means long hours, but Sal and Duffy and daughter Jessica are no strangers
to hard work. The constant high quality of the good food served simply
is the secret and a source of pride at Earth Foods. You can even purchase
take-out containers of that fresh made hummus along with salsa, pesto,
baba ganouj and even tasty black olives.
When I mention the importance
of quality, Sal leans across the kitchen table, "Food is the source
of life, what I enjoy is what I give. Food should be good for the
soul and body." Sal sips his espresso, "Good food, work and family,
it's a good cycle."
The first spring after Sal and
Duffy moved to the country, Sal began preparing the land to plant
his garden. Images from childhood filled his thoughts. There he was
digging stones from his earth, preparing his garden. He discovered
great joy in removing those stones. It was then he understood with
new clarity the important lessons of his father those many years ago.
We'll talk next time, From The
to Road Archive