Carla Gerner- The Hands That Feed You
Posted by denisegoitia | Filed under News & Notes
The Hands That Feed You
Inspired by her mother’s Peruvian cooking, Carla roasted a suckling pig for staff lunch
Carla Gerner was born and raised in Lima, Peru. Her grandmother lived in the mountains where she had a ranch with about 150 head of cattle, 80 pigs, and lots of chickens. About twice a year her grandmother would come visit and would bring beef from her farm, and that’s as often as Carla and her family would eat beef. Her grandmother would bring piglets to Carla, and she would raise them on the third floor of the house where she lived. She took on the primary responsibility for feeding them (her mother ran a produce store and they would feed the pigs all the vegetables that were no longer sellable), bathing them, cleaning up their manure and hosing down the floor, and taking them on occasional walks (which her mother didn’t approve of).
When the piglets were fully-grown, Carla’s grandmother would come back to harvest them. She would kill them with a long thin blade that went through the heart and then quickly chop off the head with a machete. She would remove the skin and hang it to make rugs, render the lard to be the family’s cooking fat for many months to come, cure the ham and other parts with salt and hang them to dry under a cloth, make chicharron, and basically convert every part of the animal into something else.
When Carla was nineteen she had a daughter whom she named Abigail, and soon thereafter started working in a pottery shop. It was there that she met an American man named Robert (“Bob”) Gerner, who came and visited her often at the shop. A year after meeting Bob, she moved to the United States and then married him. In 2005 they had a son together named Stephen (or Esteban).
Living in the Bay Area, Carla was introduced to Waldorf education and became enchanted with the gentle, participatory approach. She attended Catholic school in Peru where the nuns were quite strict and employed occasional corporal punishment with a ruler. The Waldorf approach was a refreshing change! She and Robert send Abigail and Stevie to East Bay Waldorf School, which both of them love.
Bob is the founder and general manager of the Natural Grocery Company, which he sold to his employees through an Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP) in 2002. The business is currently expanding to be able to offer their customers prepared foods. Carla is interested in this new endeavor, and is participating in Three Stone Hearth’s Cooking and Culinary Traditions Program in order to learn more about commercial kitchen food preparation.