I know that the things I write on this blog are kind of self-contained little essays often. I also know that sometimes Google makes responding on this blog difficult. (Sometimes it doesn't even recognize me!). I've been curious though to watch my statistics: the number of readers peaked in May and June, slipped in July, sagged in August and is rebounding later in September. I'm wondering if readers of blogs take a break in the summer too, whether you get out of your regular rhythms and routines. Which is so often a good thing. Summer is a great time to stock the larder and to be out of time. I was wondering if what I wrote had become too self-contained or self-reflective -- a blog all about me, and not something readers could connect with. Maybe that IS it. I'm open to suggestions, either way.
And the gift: two nights this week I made the salad I would ask for if it were my last meal. One of those nights was the night Troy Davis was executed in the US, so I didn't want to be callous and call it Death Row Salad, but really, upon reflection, it is that good. The flavours complement each other in amazing ways. I think you have to like all the flavours individually, but together -- oh baby.
So, to those who've stuck in here past the summer and past the containedness of the writing, a gift -- the recipe for the best salad I know:
Wash a couple of handfuls of baby arugula. Dry it well and spread it gently, like a fleece, on a large salad plate. Drizzle with the finest quality olive oil you can manage. (I love the locally-imported Ralo's olive oil.) Then drizzle with real balsamic vinegar. It costs a fortune. We were fortunate enough to get ours in Italy in a winery that made balsamico in their attic. What we normally get here is balsamic-flavoured wine vinegar. Real balsamic vinegar is thick as oil or maple syrup, and dark-sweet-tart. You need the tiniest amount of this -- which still, I calculate, costs about $5.00 Then grind pepper on top and sprinkle with a wee bit of salt. Finally, grate real Parmigiano-Reggiano (or similar aged cheese like Grana Padano) on top.
It tastes like the deepest tastes of the earth have come together for a celebration. Try not to moan out loud -- I dare you.