The refrigerator is sparse at a glance. Condiments appear as an army in the midst of battle. Some have fallen, half empty of their contents. Some stand half open and bleeding. Some wobble as I open the door, crying out to me. I feel a little guilty every time I swoop my arm into the fridge passing over the whimpering pleas of condiment soldiers in search of more viable foods. I tell myself I will deal with the condiments later.
Like a helicopter I drop into the crisper, looking for who is next on the list to be rescued. Who has been waiting the longest? A single head of broccoli rolls around in the right crisper, just beginning to grow "tired", as my grandmother used to say. She was a polite woman and the sort who refrained from using the word "old" even when referring to vegetables. Perhaps in her old age "tired" is the word she felt fit herself most accurately. My grandmother loved to arrange flowers. I thought of her while creating the garnish for this salad; a lightly steamed broccoli bouquet.
The left crisper is filled with reinforcements, fresh produce from the farmer's market. I locate a bowl of Napa and purple cabbage and I crave sweet poppy seed dressing. The mango rolling around on my table is now soft and releasing fragrant olfactory seductions.
The scrape of knife against stone is primal, even when the stone is wedged into an innovative plastic culinary product. I keep the cabbage slices small, there will be plenty of dressing to fill each nook and cranny. The dressing will be light and healthful, not a guilty pleasure but a delivery of macro-nutrients. The sweet mango river will carry just enough oil to rescue trapped vitamins from cabbage pieces, and bring them safely to the shoreline of your intestinal cells.
The warped cutting board rocks against the counter, knocking like a woodpecker. It adds to the drama of my kitchen dance, which is both quiet and loud for as long as I stay vigilant. Sizzling garlic, dripping of mango, whirring blender, the ping of the giant silver bowl.
The dressing (a poppy seed dressing that needs no sugar!):
1 mango plump, soft and fragrant
3 Tbsp canola oil (or sunflower oil)
1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 small yellow onion
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp poppy seeds
The salad: 1/2 medium head purple cabbage, 1/4 small head Napa cabbage, mix together and dress with mango dressing. Garnish with 1 head broccoli, lightly cooked. Heat a frying pan with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Melt the oil around the pan and add 1 large clove minced garlic (remove from heat first) quickly add broccoli (broken into little flowers) and a sprinkle of salt. Add ~2 Tbsp water, put back on the heat and steam until broccoli is bright green but still crunchy.
Christina's vote: "I ate with no intention of sharing"