◊ Ugly Food

Dear Mom,

Mmm.. lime in the Clementine cake sounds delish! Did you use the lime as a supplement or a substitute  to the clementines? Look at how nicely you decorated it with the glaze! I cook so hapharzdly here that nothing I make could ever turn out that pretty. I’m blaming it on the nature of my kitchen (though let’s face it, I think we can both agree blame it on the nature of my self).

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My kitchen is cluttered, cramped and hot.  There’s mold on the cutting boards. There are fruit flies hovering the sink and greasy pans hanging from the walls and crusty brown stuff everywhere. Yes, Bubbe would be horrified.  Does it make you nervous that this is where I’ve always envisioned myself at this age?

I’m not telling you these things to complain about my living situation or brag about roughing it in the kitchen. I simply want to say that it’s not my fault that everything I make comes out so ugly. It’s my kitchen’s fault.

It’s like when you drop a whole bag of walnuts and it’s clearly dad’s fault because he put them on the wrong shelf of the freezer. Of course it’s not your fault. And it’s not my fault that I simply cannot make the things that I eat look elegant.

Cooking is the same as making art. And the space where I cook compels me to approach food aggressively – mashing it, mushing it, throwing it all together (and all over everything that gets in my path). Measuring cups? What are those? But, I promise it’s always a true work of art – maybe reckless but always tasty.

When I studied abroad in Bolivia, I learned about the ritual of honoring Pachamama – mother earth — by dropping or spilling food and drink on the floor.  If someone spilled wine, there was no whoops…  It was more, this one’s on me, Pachamama!

Towards the end of study abroad, we contemplated how we’d integrate the experience into our lives at home, and we were warned that different insights would creep up at different times in our lives. Well, here I am, 3 ½ years out, celebrating Pachamama like it’s my job. I drop a few chocolate chips… Enjoy, Pachamama.. they’re Ghirdellhi!

Reckless.

It’s my kitchen’s fault, really. It doesn’t inspire care or grace. I just throw things into bowls, blenders and all over.

And that is why I saved the Clementine recipe for when I came home for Passover. And why you did such a better job at it than I. And why I don’t think I could ever make it here in DC.

To make my case, I present you with this pea dip.  A bright tasting mush, perfect for dipping. It’s vegan, gluten-free and raw – perfect for all the hipster eating habits in my hood.  It takes two minutes to make and you’ll be shocked by it’s natural sweetness.

Of course, I always pay attention to the color of my food. Duh…  that is in my nature.

Love ya,

Shaina

Pea Dip

  • 1 bag of frozen peas
  • A handful of fresh mint sprigs
  • A few leaves of fresh tarragon
  • Juice of half fresh lemon
  • A little bit of garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Throw all the items into a Cuisinarte or blender. If you loose some peas along the way, pachamama thanks you.

I tried to score some pretty points by serving it with a dollop of plain yogurt on top. I don’t think it helped the appearance, but the flavors were WOW.

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