I miss you, summer.

All I could think of today was a spinach salad with pine nuts, feta, and olive oil. A little salt. Maybe pepper. It’s a variation on a classic, acid-less salad (vinegar or otherwise) introduced to me about a quarter of a century ago by my grandfather. Because when the olive oil is good enough, you don’t really need much else*.

*Except, of course, for sunshine and temperatures somewhere above 65 degrees.

So apparently I’m having seasonally inappropriate cravings. (Somebody call Barbara Kingsolver: Is there some kind of support group for this?)

Because it’s too damn cold for that salad now; we’re well into the Season Where All We Want Is an Enormous Bowl of Steaming Baked Glop. In case you missed it, it sleeted today. The outdoor temperature was a consistent, soul-wilting 37 degrees (33 in my office before the radiators kicked on. Thanks, well-respected yet hopelessly antiquated institution of higher learning!). Even my tangy nicoise at lunch, despite extra mustard in the dressing and a subsequent (though temporary) clearing of sinuses, didn’t quite seem to cut it.
So I came home this evening to some questions. The first two were unrelated to food, but important in a gra’s life: 1) When are jeans without pockets on the butt acceptable? I’ve spent years decrying the devastating strain of Sad-Butt Syndrome (SBS) caused by the regrettable absence of pockets to give much-needed shape to the rear. Turns out it’s all okay if the jeans feel great otherwise and were $20. Shut up. 2) Am I a bad person if I don’t do laundry tonight? Yes.
The next, rather ironic question went something like this: How far am I willing to go to not leave my apartment again tonight? The weather outside was relatively frightful for a Chicagoan whose blood hadn’t thickened up to, well, a seasonally appropriate consistency, and my radiator and overpriced soy candles are so delightful. So I went to the fridge to see what kind of (probably SFMF-worthy) creation I could throw together so I could a) pretend I wasn’t chilled to the bone, b) do my laundry and c) watch my ill-fated 00’s family sitcom on DVD in peace/sweats. (What?) However, I was greeted with… well, let’s say it was like opening the door to a surprise birthday party thrown for me by Narcoleptics Anonymous. “Zzzzz…. Oh. Uh… oh. Hey. Hi. Uh- Surpri… zzzzz.” Wow, guys! Dying, bitter spinach! A slice of colby jack! Some chicken stock! Pesto! Wow. Really. You shouldn’t have!
So I didn’t. I folded. I noticed a coupon for a whopping $5 off any delivery order from my favorite Indian place (hey, how else do you think I afford nice things like $20 plain-butt jeans? [in my defense, they are rather trouser-esque]). What did I order? That’s right: An Enormous Bowl of Steaming Baked Glop. My first, and completely unoriginal Indian love: chicken tikka masala. Whatever, it’s a classic. (And garlic naan. Pshah.) Was it warm? Of course. Satisfying? Yes, if by that you mean to ask if I’m bordering on achingly full.
But so what? I mean, yes, there’s something to be said for an EBSBG (I am making up stupid acronyms like it’s my job. But looking at it, I actually feel like “EBSBG” is sort of catchy. Am I wrong?). But still, tonight, I’m thinking about that salad. Fresh spinach. Crumbled feta. Some pine nuts– toasted or not. Olive oil and salt. That’s it.
I miss August. I miss squinting into the sun, not scowl-squinting into the sleet. I miss crisp, cold food. No, wait. I miss wanting crisp, cold food. I miss coming home to a basil plant that, after a little water and about 10 hours of indirect sunlight, looks like it went through the makeover/shopping montage in Pretty Woman, just without the shoulder pads. My plant is, actually, miraculously, dutifully, still producing nice little green leaves for me. But I feel like she’s just doing it to put on a brave face.
Hopefully this winter won’t be the stone-cold bitch it was last year. But I can’t pretend like I don’t look forward to spring and summer, when my salad is just so perfect.
Meanwhile, we work with hardier produce. Stuff that can sit on the pantry shelf for like a month, before, still smiling and unblemished, we call it into service and bake it away in a toasty oven in a toasty, bright kitchen.

Stuff like, say, squash. Stay tuned.

Tell me what you think...

%d bloggers like this: