I’m sitting at the table. It’s the kind of table that folds back to a flat piece of nothing. Unless you were hoping to have a floor-style community meal, it’s the kind of table that fades into the background or shows up for the times we want to eat on the balcony like it’s a picnic. Right now, it’s standing on its own. It’s covered in paintings, paints, a glass full of this murky brown water – that earns its colours after constant brush dipping – and of course, there’s a paintbrush. And almonds.
My 4-year-old neighbour came to visit today. I brought her with me to hand her our copy of “Lincoln”. She was supposed to take it back to her parents’ but she changed her mind. “I want to come to your house. I love the puppies!”
“I love to paint.” “I love my brother.” “My little sister’s name is Karthika. I love her.” “I think this puppy loves me.”
If I start this-right-here sentence with “Kids….”, I’m probably going to distance myself from the one thing I still wish I could be. I don’t want to do that. I loved being a child. Just yesterday I made a mental note of all the games we made up as children. The no adults allowed kind of games. Our stuffed toys would talk and if they were on the floor after we awoke the next morning, we would assume they came to life while we were asleep. Then there was mud. Lots and lots of mud became food and leaves were the plate. Dry mud sprinkled on top of wet mud was chocolate pudding, rice, curry, fish, and then some. I can still feel this overwhelming joy that I felt back when I knew my sisters and I were going to play in this small shed at Analise’s house. There would be lots of mud and we could cook for hours, or until A. Pacy called us for lunch. *Groannnn*.
Back then, I never challenged my (what us adults call) creativity. I didn’t know any different. I made up things in my head and I had nothing to worry about because my world was real. Of course, one of us would always try to contest this reality, which would end with a loud “You’re cheating!” and maybe some tears and/or bite marks. “Magenta?! There’s no such colour!” Try telling that to the crocodile, Miss 8-year-old.
I wish it was still okay to bite people especially an imagination that constantly doubts itself. I’d bite a system that gives us ranks instead of measuring our passions. I’d bite the table because sometimes, that seems appropriate. I’d bite the walls that pop up any time I think I have a good idea but have no clue where to go from there. I’d also bite walls, because I like the taste of cement.
Just like the 4-year-old with two ponytails, I also love. Puppies and paint and my sisters. I love this writing thing. I love how everything I draw always turns into a tree. I love leaf money and my Peanuts comics. I love to cook.
I have no desire for fame, or money (except sometimes….you know. Boring stuff). I just want this love thing. It seems like something important to a 4-year-old.
“For happiness is anyone and anything at all that’s loved by you”
You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.
To my people in India, I know we don’t get these sugar snap things there so a good substitute for them would be some crunchy green French beans, cut in half and cooked in boiling water just until crispy/tender. They won’t be sweet but yet, they still will…if you know what I mean. You are my favourites. This recipe was inspired by this post on bonappetit.com.
- 160 gm (1 3/4 cups) sugar snap peas
- 190 gm (2 cups) sweet potato, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped/minced…you get my drift
- Pepper and/or salt
For the dressing
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp lite soy sauce
- 2 tsp ginger, minced
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 tsp chili-garlic sauce like Sriracha
- 2 tsp peanut oil
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
For garnish (optional)
- Roasted peanuts or almonds or sunflower seeds…something nutty and crunchy that you already have in the kitchen, basically.
This should be fairly easy if I don’t eat up half my instructions. Shake me if I do.
Boil the sweet potato cubes in water until tender. As soon as you take them off the stove, shock them with cold water to stop the cooking process. Or tell them they’re fat. String the sugar snap peas and then cut them into 3 parts or 1/2 inch pieces. Put into a large bowl where your final salad will go along with the cooked sweet potatoes and green onions.
Once the veggies are ready, it’s onto the dressing. Apart from the peanut oil and sesame seeds, mix/whisk together all the other ingredients in a small bowl. As for the peanut oil, put it on a pan along with the sesame seeds. When the oil gets hot enough, you’ll notice the sesame seeds turning a darker shade of brown and getting fragrant as well. Watch it closely so it doesn’t burn. As soon as this happens, take the pan off the stove and pour the hot oil/seed mix into the dressing bowl. Mix it with the rest of what’s in there and pour over the vegetable/spud/root i.e. peas, sweet potato, onions. Garnish with garnish. You have options above. I used roasted almonds. Season with pepper and salt (if it’s not already salty enough). If you want to make this dish even more fun, serve with your favourite Asian noodles.
Dinner is served. By somebody else. Not me.