Wednesday, August 4, 2010

First Trip Abroad Salad

Kate looked exhausted. She had long straight purple bags under her eyes and her chin length hair, which was tousled and unruly, was kept precariously pinned down by a pair of large black sunglasses. She jangled a set of keys in one hand, and was dragging a small boy behind her in the other. She didn’t notice me as she flew by, with her chin raised as though she were in a hurry. There were many bloggers tucked behind their laptops in the coffee shop. I blended into the scenery like green on army fatigue.
“Kate!” I called after her. Kate stopped abruptly and looked around. The little boy bumped into her legs, and then clutched onto her so as not to fall.
“Kate, over here” I repeated.
“Oh, HI EMILY! So good to see you!! It has been too long.” She said. “I apologize if I am a little spacey, I picked up my two kids last night from the airport. They spent the last two months in Panama with their dad doing volunteer work. Their flight came in at 2 am, but then my daughter and I stayed up talking until 5!” She was excited, and had the sort of manic energy of a person captured by a moment of genius.

A small tan 16 year old with dark brown eyes and a scrunched up ponytail meandered over. Her skin was noticeably glowing and she was sipping an iced coffee out of a straw.
“You remember my daughter Kelsey, don’t you?” Kate said. Kelsey plopped down in the seat to my left, her mother and brother sat down to my right and the three of them began excitedly recounting the details of the trip. Kelsey said all the polite things that a teenager would say to an adult about a trip to a foreign country. At 30 years old it still shocks me when teenagers treat me like an adult. She talked about the culture, about her desire to become bilingual, about the volunteer work that they did (which was community driven), and how scary it was to be 16 years old spending time alone in Panama.

I asked her about the food, and she lit up and spoke a thousand miles a minute. “Everything is fresh, and grown right there in the fields by the house. Our host family was really poor, but they had the most amazing food.” She talked about corn stuffed in corn husks and boiled for hours, triple fried plantains, fresh picked vegetables, and coffee.

She was inspired. The trip had rescued her from her teenage angst, and delivered the promise of a future that she could imagine herself in. I wondered if the memory of the trip would be the touchstone she would refer back to throughout the rest of her high school and college life. I wondered if the memory of fresh foods and sleeping on unpaved floors would be the thing that would get her through the difficult times ahead. As the family got up to leave I had the distinct feeling that it would.

First Trip Abroad Salad
1 bunch arugula, chopped
2 red peppers, diced
1 tomato sliced
1 ear of corn, with the corn cut off

Lemon Garlic dressing
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1 clove fresh garlic
salt and pepper
a dash ume plum vinegar
a pinch soy lecithin
lemon zest

Christina’s vote: “this salad made me what to whistle”

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