The instant I crossed through the mechanical entryway I forgot why I was there. Bathed in fluorescent light I caught a glimpse of a figure whose movements were strangely familiar, projecting down from the screen above. I moved my head to the side, the woman on the screen copied me. She had dark circles under her eyes and pale skin and looked slightly heavier than I did in my mirror this morning. I recognized her as my department store alter ego, the shadow that faces me in security cameras and window reflections. I often see her at the mall. If I am not vigilant when she is around, she will spend all my money on beauty products and diet soda. I smile at her now and walk past the beauty aisle and stop at the magazine racks so that I can think hard about why I am here without inviting inquiries of customer service. A "thinking face" is the honey for worker bees, who swarm on quiet afternoons such as these. Michael Jackson in various faces smiles at me from the magazine rack. The curiosity of his journey through vanity, changing bodies the way teenagers change clothing styles, nearly drives me trade my afternoon for a seat on the carpet and a journey through every article. Instead I leave the aisle, remembering hard as I pace slowly through the snack section. I stop at the sunflower seeds, I need them, though I am not entirely sure why. After the seeds I remember my purpose, pick up what I need and head home.
Last night in a magazine, I read about a new author. She talked about fiction writing, and about how the characters find you. She talked about she often found herself writing about things of which she had no previous experience. It is similar with salad. Standing before an empty cutting board, my hands and arms select ingredients without consulting my mind, it seems. I gave up planning a long time ago. The salad has an agenda. It finds you when it wants to be made.
This salad is very similar to a favorite salad of mine, which I used to order from a local restaurant every time I went there for dinner. It was often my sole reason for going there.
In a blender or mini food processor mix:
1 clove garlic
1/4 red onion
1 handful basil leaves
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp water
Juice from 1 lemon
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
Thyme and parsley to taste
Rinse and chop 1/2 head romaine, add 2 peeled sliced carrots, 1/2 head cauliflower, 1 tomato sliced and quartered, 1/4 diced red onion, shredded cheese and roasted salted sunflower seeds to taste.
Christina's vote: "Simply delicious"