Food is memory; it is the nostalgia of being held and fed by a parent, the memory of that perfect summer day picking plump, sun-ripened tomatoes from the vine, the perfectly sectioned packed lunch you brought to school on your first day of grade one (with the orange and the chocolate chip granola bar).
The things we eat are emotionally and physically nourishing. A simple cup of tea and a square of silky dark chocolate in the evening is a ritual as much as a pleasure of texture and taste. A perfectly vibrant green pesto on crusty, just baked bread conjures up a string of images - backyard garden parties with smokey air and twinkling lanterns hanging from the trees, or that one day in December when you just can’t wait for basil to be in season and create a summer picnic scene in your cozy, dimly lit apartment, windows frosting at the edges.
This isn’t a new idea - is anything really? - but it is one I feel gets lost so easily in the bustle of internet food trends and the constant need for rules about everything. To me, food is so tied up with family, relationships, and love. I learned to bake from my mom and grandmothers, discovered the joys of stinky cheeses and jasmine tea during long, intimate chats with friends, and grew up on those so-called hippy foods like flax, seaweed, and wheatgrass fed to me by my dad who is still the first to tell me about the health benefits of any given deep green veggie or bright orange root.
It makes me sad, sometimes, to read about all the different ways people restrict themselves with food. I stopped eating meat when I was 9 years old. If I am honest, I didn’t do it for ethical, environmental, or health reasons. I just simply didn’t like meat and haven’t tried it since. I always want to be open and hospitable to people’s personal choices, but when those choices are coming from the newest fad diet or nutritionist super-star, it gives me pause.
I think everyone should do what is best for their bodies, and I will always stand by that, but in the end isn’t real, whole food just good and nourishing? Do I really have to stop eating half the vegetables in my fridge because they might contain a certain protein that is hard to digest? I just can’t stand by that. And I find it hard to see so many people readily accepting every new diet trend that emerges. I often catch myself buying into it for a little while before I remember that what I am doing right now works so well for me. Again, what works for one body is so different from what works for the next. I’m not here to judge anyone, but I still have so many questions. I really want to hear your thoughts on this.
This salad is meant for sharing.
For as long as I can remember my mom has been making this for potlucks, family dinners, and simple outdoor summer meals. When I called her to talk about it she told me that it wasn't in fact her recipe, but our good friend Kelly's. I love the evolution of a recipe, all the hands it has passed through, and the variations it takes on. I think it is incredibly beautiful to think of all the people who have - metaphorically - touched a recipe and changed it in their own way.
So, all this to say, I hope you do the same. My biggest wish for the recipes that I post in this space is that they are changed and altered. I want you to think of them as the framework, the bones, to something that will ultimately be your own style. Nothing makes me happier than to see your interpretations of the things I make.
Sending love, good thoughts, and good food your way.
carrot & cabbage salad w/ sesame lime dressing
- half of a purple cabbage, sliced into quarters
- 4 large carrots, washed (peeling optional)
- 4 sprigs mint, washed
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
- juice of 2 limes
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 2 tsp sriracha
- 1 tsp grated ginger
Add all of the dressing ingredients to a jar and seal tightly. Shake until combined.
Using the grater attachment on a food processor grate the cabbage and carrots. If you don't have a food processor simply grate the carrots using a box grater and slice the cabbage into thin ribbons, chopping into smaller pieces if desired. Remove the leaves from the sprigs of mint and thinly slice by gathering the mint into a bundle and slicing lengthwise with your knife. Add the carrots, cabbage, and mint to a large serving bowl and toss together. Add the dressing (as much as desired, I used all of it) and toss until evenly distributed. Top with chopped peanuts and serve. Will keep in the fridge for 1-2 days.