It’s normal to make a big food blogging comeback with just 2 photos of the dish right? If the past few months are anything to go by then this is the *PERFECT* way to make a comeback. Something went wrong with the rest of the moong bean hummus photos I made so this is what I have. It’s life’s way of saying “I own you”. That’s cool, life. It’s been a while. I almost forgot how it felt like to be humbled….
If you’re wondering if food justice is disconnected from what you experience on a day to day basis, consider these questions: Who picked the produce you buy? Where do you shop? How many times a week do you eat out? Where do you eat when you do? Who are you sharing your purchasing power with?
I took a short break from writing this blog because after back to back summers of trying to keep up in the rat race, I wanted to stop. Ever since I moved here from India, I’ve had an endless to-do list of things I needed to accomplish so I could set the ball rolling on somewhat fitting in. Some of the tasks included making my house a refuge, another was turning my gardening hobby into something more than just a fling. Then there was the task of getting a driver’s license and cooking to teach myself what I really like to eat on a daily basis and making notes for a book I might want to write. To people who do jobs and keep pursuing creative hobbies on the side, you don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you break. Breaks are necessary and allow you to come back energised, with more ideas and the ability to learn more about yourself and how you tick. Everybody needs one from time to time and since this blog is not my job, it felt easier to step back….
(I wrote this three weeks ago. One can hope it’s still relevant.)
Earlier today morning on my walk I was trying to think about the one moment I could say was definitive of my 20s. With all of this nostalgia I’ve been feeling for a decade, nothing popped up right until now. Rather than “now” I mean last year. I was at the airport waiting to catch my flight back to Goa. I had just finished a memorable trip in Mumbai catching up with my friends and former work family and I was sitting in the departure lounge contemplating whether I should buy an overpriced stale samosa with watered down chutney. I felt…happy. Happy because for a brief moment in transit I could pretend I lived where my heart belongs and go home again. I was only a little meh about not getting to meet one of my work friends. I hadn’t seen him in a long time and after he moved abroad like me, there would be few chances where we would be in the same city at the same time. He was the favourite work child whom I loved to hate. Everyone we worked with read that as “domestic squabbles”, but in my mind it was more like a sibling rivalry. Maybe I was blind.
I dug out my foreign smart phone – which was dead for all phone-like purposes – to see if I could get it to connect to the airport wi-fi. I needed to have a local phone number which I had thanks to my mother’s extra phone and number she keeps around for when people like me visit. I entered my information into an electronic form and it sent me a code, which I then used to sign in and get my mind off samosas and onto WhatsApp. I sent him my first message that day using a usual “zinger” that we would send each other frequently over GChat. I typed something like “fail”, just like the good old days (but I didn’t mean it) and proceeded to tell him that he could have just been honest that he didn’t want to see me. Self-deprecation, my style. I went on to my next chat group to read the flood of messages that I hadn’t caught up on in a day or two. They were from my college friends’ group. My friend and his wife had twin girls. Nothing unusual except that the entire time they were pregnant he kept it a secret that it was going to be two babies. I said WHAT THE FUCK as quietly as one could in an airport. My fingers began to frantically type “CONGRATULATIONS” and “I could have come and seen you…why didn’t you tell me…now I’m at the airport on my way back to Goa”. As I was piecing together this surprise news I got a reply from my other friend. His mother had passed very suddenly. All of a sudden I was in the middle of a highway, traffic rushing by on either side of me. Good, bad, happy, sad, I retreated into my head and watched everything happen…being there but also being lost in a sea of emotion. Nobody around me knew the gravity of what was happening in these parallel universes except me and even I didn’t really know. All I knew is that for two people that day, everything changed.
Being 20-years-old was the start of adulthood for me. It was a time where I took big decisions on my own and saw overwhelming support from my family. I went on some of the best adventures of my life with some of my best friends, people I barely knew and my sisters. I got married(!) and a few months earlier, my grandma had died as a result of a mental illness and her medication. I got myself lots of anxiety, which I can manage most days but on others it’s the usual jaw-clenching, hair-pulling, nail-biting adventure. A lot of things I was when I was younger have started to get fine-tuned as I get older. I get excited when I am able to pinpoint how I’m still the same me even though I’ve flipped over the calendar. Life is complex. It’s bits and parts of the happy, sad overwhelming shit coming together and sweeping you over and under when you least expect it. It’s hard. It’s not going to be without a fight and on days when I can’t see beyond what I’m feeling in the present, I tell myself like the song grandma used to sing to keep our young attention, “que sera sera, whatever will be, will be”.
I prefer using homemade chicken or vegetable stock here because because because. I’m not fancy. I hoard ballooned bags of chicken stock in the freezer, that’s why. You can buy chicken stock parts at your meat vendor or grocery shop and it takes an onion, some garlic and herbs to make a stock. Same for vegetable stock; I save scraps and add it to water in a slow-cooking pot.
This is salt-as-you-go recipe. I add a little pinch each time I taste what I’m cooking. The final major salt balancing happens at the end.
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 leeks, cut in half and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces (about 3 cups)
- 1 tbsp ginger, grated
- 1 tbsp garlic, grated
- 10 fingerling or baby potatoes, rinsed and cut into 1/8 inch rounds (about 2 cups)
- A large handful of kale, ribs removes and torn into smaller pieces
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock (2 32oz cartons, if you’re using those)
- A bouquet garni* made up of 2 stalks of parsley, 1 stalk of thyme, 1 stalk of basil
- 1 cup cooked navy beans
- Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
- Pecorino Romano, lemon wedges, bread and chopped parsley, to serve
*fancy word for bouquet of herbs. You can also add the herbs to a cheesecloth and tie up the pouch (like a tea bag). It’s easier to discard.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot and add the leeks to it. Cook them down to a jammy state of being, about 7 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, potatoes, kale and turmeric and stir it all around for 2 minutes allowing the flavours to meld. About a tsp of salt here Pour in the chicken or vegetable stock and drop in the bouquet garni. Leave the soup pot a little over medium heat and let it come to a simmer. Leave it at that simmer for 25 minutes and then add the navy beans. Cook for 5 more minutes and add salt and pepper to taste. Discard the bouquet of herbs. They have done their part for the soup.
Serve with plenty of Pecorino Romano, lemon wedges, parsley and bread.
I started this tradition which is not really a tradition three years ago where I email my mother a few questions and pester her to answer there. I forgot to do it last year but it’s back again this year and that same mother is now a grandmother. If you read the interview in my last post, you will have already understood the story of Jane and Sidney adopting Jacob and being smitten by him in the process. This year’s interview is less about Jackie being our mother and more about being JFC’s beautiful grandma. The torch has been passed and I feel thrilled to say that that collectively, this boy will never want for love as long as he sticks around the D’Souzas and Cardosos.
I’m very close to declaring May as “no-blog-month”. But if you know me like I know myself, I probably won’t do no a no-blog-month because I don’t know how to relax. HELP me. I was supposed to come back from Seattle today (I also went yesterday. It’s a 50 min bus ride from my house), sit on the bed and scroll my phone endlessly. Instead I planted onions and now I’m writing this. I walked at least 20 km in 2 days. I don’t know what that means in steps but it was uphill, downhill, through a park, every floor of the library, into a Salumi line, past privileged Seattle, into a P-Patch and under the ropes at Rancho Bravo Tacos in no specific order….
Happy International Women’s Day (belated, I was tired yesterday. ). Lots to read about gender equality all over the world right here.
The place I work at is a food blogger’s dream. Their merchandising department is so good at their job that almost any ingredient you see in a top-hit type recipe has a place on our shelves. Even so, there is always something that we won’t sell simply because it’s not trendy enough. Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and chaat masala is nowhere to be seem but the haldi (turmeric) and jeera (cumin) jars always seem to empty quicker than they are filled. Whatever I can’t buy after work on Sunday forces me a little out of my comfort zone. During the store’s annual end-of-year spice cupboard restock sale (a name I just made up) last year, I took home some sumac, smoked paprika, ground ancho and chipotle pepper, red pepper flakes and powdered harissa blend, which little did I know, is like buying powdered recheado masala. It’s not the same….
Before elections in India, local politicians will go around with their contractors spot-fixing roads, drains, bribing locals with modern conveniences and money and more recently – as is the trend – building pavements along the side of the road which never seem to be 100% complete. Haste makes waste and all that. Everyone knows the game and why its being played. Votes. That heady mixture of cynicism and concern was one of my favourite things to witness when I was younger. My parents would never tell us whom they voted for and just like “they are all crooks*”, the secret ballot stayed a secret. As a child, I was so annoyed by this. I appreciate this lesson in suspense more as an adult. Not only did it keep the mystery alive, it allowed me to form an opinion of my own on who I thought would best serve my constituency….
Hello from November where I’m going to tell you about the weather because it’s 18 degrees Celsius which is 65 in Fahrenheit (yay/nay?). This is not normal but neither is the Cubs winning the World Series but they did it last night!!! All you science haters (how is this even real) can blame them. The other reasons for the myth of climate change cannot be worse. Holding up a ball of snow? Check….
*Eight-minute egg or what happens when you don’t pay attention to the timer.
Yesterday, I came *this* close to being in Goa again. Being near a package sent to me by my family through a friend visiting/working in Seattle for a week was my escape and even though I’m not literally there, I can breathe the curry patta (leaves) that grow from my neighbour’s compound to our top floor balcony and drop a red chilli in hot oil whenever I feel low. The homesickness has been on the uptick lately. This is the time of the year when I have a plane ticket and I’m all prepared to say “See you sucker,” to the winter. That’s not on the list this year and so, packages of dried food with amazing labels made my mother will do. They are so professional. Airport customs has nothing on her….