Sunday, July 28, 2013

Be there. Swim through.

"Sit, be still, and listen
because you're drunk
and we're at the edge of the roof"

Change, even good change, makes me anxious. There's nothing to be done about it, really. It's just the way I'm wired, I guess.

Anxiety is the feeling of always being at the edge of roof. It's like being drunk- everything is raw and cushioned all at the same time. The world has sharp edges. You are exposed and you are in fog. It's a constant, stomach-churning feeling- the compulsion, to do something, do something; to take arms against a sea of troubles, even when the troubles aren't troubles. But there's nothing to do. There's nowhere to go.

Sit, be still, and listen.

This is a mantra. I know the drill.

Be there. Swim through.

The push off the wall. The cool water rushing past your body- your outstretched arms, hands overlapped. The dolphin kick. The silence. That breath you take as you surface- the first measure of a meter that will take you across a great expanse.

Be there. Settle into it. There is only the moment you are in. There is only one way across this great expanse.


This potato salad is a little late. I am sorry about that. It took a while to get it right, and besides, I was busy swimming.

I got the framework for this recipe from my friend, Yehosheva. Yo was my college roommate, the person who made me love cilantro, who introduced me to tamarind and polenta and food that is bright, bright with flavor; the person with whom I went to my first folk-rock concert (Dan Bern- where its at!) and dream-cast a ridiculous number of movies. Now, she is my skype-buddy. We may live across the ocean from each other, but we still dream-cast movies. We read books. We talk food and movies and art and culture. We commiserate about life. We fangirl over Pardes, only the best kosher restaurant in everywhere.

This potato salad is one of those foods that is bright, bright with flavor. It's a punch your in the mouth sort of dish, but in a good way. It gets its kick from lemon juice, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and a good dose of sesame oil, and that's just the dressing. I think though, what I like best about this potato salad, are the roasted radishes. I've been eating roasting radishes for years. I like the way radishes sort of mellow and sweeten when they're roasted. Sometimes, I eat them plain and sometimes I use them as I would use bitter greens and add them to pasta with some garlic, olive oil, lemon zest and pecorino. That's a pretty good dish. But it never occurred to me to pair them with potatoes, or that they would play well with Asian flavors, even though now that I think about it, it seems like the most obvious thing in the world. But that's what I have Yo for, to point out all the things standing in front of my face this whole while.

Yo, thanks for this salad. It's awesome and I miss you. Let's go to Italy and eat all the food.

Potato and Roasted Radish Salad with Sesame Dressing

Adapted from Yehosheva Markovitz

For the salad:
6 medium red potatoes, unpeeled
1 bunch radishes, with their greens
1 medium carrot, grated
olive oil

For the dressing:
2 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 radish leaves, chopped
1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger
1 heaping teaspoon ground mustard

For garnish:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. While the oven is heating, cut the potatoes into medium chunks, about a 1/2 an inch big. Dice the radishes in the same manner.

2. Toss 3/4 of the radishes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan and roast, covered for 20 minutes. Uncover the pan, and continue roasting for another 15 minutes. They will become milder, both in color and in taste. Remove from oven.

3. While the radishes are roasting, place the potatoes in a large pot filled with cold, well-salted water. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Drain and then return to the pot to keep warm.

4. Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a blender (or use a hand blender). Blend until until smooth.

5. In large bowl, mix together the warm potatoes, roasted radishes, the remaining raw radishes and carrot. Pour the dressing over the potatoes. Toss. Garnish with plenty of chopped cilantro and scallions. Serve.

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