Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for my current phase of life and all the opportunities that comes along with it. But still, there’s that screen, glowing in my face day after day and making my fresh-air loving soul feel a little empty now and again. When the hum of machines gives me a headache and the Internet’s incessant chatter overwhelms me, where do I turn? The Internet of course. From the Economist’s technology blog (via Andrew Sullivan) this bit of pro-technology is brilliant. Especially for this recovering Luddite.
All German terms for radio are derived from a single verb: funken, to spark. I’ve been trying to understand the continued appeal of radio when there are so many different and more convenient ways to get news and music, and I think it has to do with the idea that we know, when we listen to the radio, that someone, somewhere is alive. Es funkt. There is a spark at the other end, a fire on the hilltop.
A blog, done right, provides this proof the same way radio does. You hear a voice, which means that someone is actually sitting in a booth somewhere talking down the signal to you. And if they take your calls, or read your emails, then they’re listening, too. I think blogs and radio are more than the sum of the information or entertainment they provide; they’re a source of human comfort.
This week I got an email reminding me that people do read this blog. It was titled “Help! Dolmas tanking!” A woman in California had tried my dolmas recipe, but substituted brown rice and found herself with uncooked, unappetizing rolls. She emailed me in a panic, and we had an amusing back-and-forth over the course of the day about cooking, expectations, and rice. I suggested she turn her failed dolmas into a success by dumping them in a pot with some sautéed onion and broth to make dolma soup. She took my advice and deemed her creation Ruined Dolma Soup. And there, a new friend.
Last night’s dinner was one of those spontaneous successes, born of exhaustion from a bike-run workout and dictated by the contents of my fridge. Cooking this way is freeing, and always faster than I imagine it will be. I head home every evening, hoping I’ll be motivated to get the ingredients together for some recipe I’ve had bookmarked for months, only to stumble lazily into a version of a loner’s feast: Toast with sardines, cheese and crackers, yogurt and granola, kimchi and a fried egg, a simple salad, a square of dark chocolate.
I love those rare nights when I get home early enough to create something actually resembling an entree. Last night, I boiled up some linguine and sautéed two minced cloves of garlic in olive oil. I threw in some thawed broccoli florets, and then, realizing I needed protein, opened up the cupboard and grabbed what I thought was a can of chickpeas. When I opened it, cannellini beans stared back at me. No matter. I dug my fingers into the can and plopped them in the pan with the broccoli, adding two huge handfuls of raw spinach and a bit of chicken broth. I let the greens wilt, sprinkled on some chili flakes and salt and pepper, and then poured the whole concoction over the linguine and finished it with Parmesan.
It’s a “recipe” not even worth typing out in regular recipe form. But it restored my confidence in a kitchen that’s become a stranger to me in this 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. life. I am so glad I remembered the fire in my kitchen (and in my stomach) for good, honest food.