Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sweetness Unwound Salad

I drove home jittery and elated, my eyes still spotting from a morning spent too close to a computer screen. 
I had not intentionally been sitting so close, my contact corrected vision is perfectly good. I simply had inched forward throughout the day, wanting so badly to do a good job that even my body was recruited to help with the effort. Intelligence, tired from carrying a heavy workload, simply skirted around management and started pulling muscle groups up to the front lines. It was mutiny! Before I knew it my shoulders were hunched forward, my eyes peeled wide, the computer so close that the soft buzz of electronics blared in my ears. 
While sitting in front of the screen trying working on formatting the thesis I would later hand in, my adviser said to me, "you know, I had a student once who was such a perfectionist that it took her years to format her thesis" 
I looked back from the grey bearded talking lab coat with the giant white spot for a face, to the comfort of the screen I had grown accustomed to. Now I was certain. I would never be good enough. 
The clatter of keyboard continued and I prayed that the rhythm and the growing chain of letters would fill the void of everything I was lacking, I was hurrying, trying to outrun the moment at which I give up my efforts, throw back my head and scream,
click click click faster and faster and then click, space, italicize, capitalize, period. space space. print...
I looked around me. An empty lab. The buzzing of lab equipment. The showering of fluorescent light. I carried my manuscript around for an hour before handing it in, not sure I wanted to let it go. The grey beard had a face now and the face had large glasses and a huge smile, which faded into view as though I were coming out of anesthesia after having just counted backwards. 

I took the scenic route home. Why hurry? I stopped in the local food shop (literally, they only stock local food), and sampled a few things (one of which was a delicious honey mustard which gave me some dressing inspiration). Then I spotted a beautiful Napa cabbage. It was the only one of it's kind, sitting on a shelf amongst radishes and Swiss chard. The soft texture of the folds scoop up dressings and deposit them on the tongue like a sponge. I had to have it. 

The woman at the counter wrapped the cabbage carefully in tissue paper, as though diapering a baby, and handed it to me with a huge smile on her face as though knowing it was going to a good home. I rode home with the cabbage in the front seat and dreamily, empty of all cares, thought about tonight's salad.

The dressing: 
In a Cuisinart, blend:
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp local honey
1 large chunk fresh ginger
3 lemons (juice only)
salt and pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard

In the bottom of the salad bowl, add 1 cup chopped fresh basil and the dressing. Chop and add 1 head Napa cabbage. Add 2 diced tomatoes and 1 cup diced sugar snap peas and 1 cup diced pea pods. Toss it all together well and serve!

Christina's vote: "this salad was sunshine on a cloudy day"

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