Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Purslane and Cherry Tomato Yogurt Salad Recipe

Last night, anticipating a vibrant sunset, I poured a glass of wine and went up to my roof to listen, look, and think. Watching the planes come in to land at La Guardia, all in a lineup, five in a row, I wondered if anyone in those planes was passing above their house, like I sometimes do, and perhaps saying to a seat mate, “See, there? The tall building at the edge of the green, there? That’s my house; I live there,” and I wasn’t sure why I felt connected to all those people up there flying around.

I was comforted by the meditative white noise of the whirring cars on the BQE, and by watching the F trains come and go, shuttling thousands of people from work and play and adventures, taking them to and from events filled with grief, euphoria, or perversion. I wondered about the crimes of the people housed in the nearby prison, and I felt for those falsely accused. They don’t feel this perfect breeze on their skin, watch the ferries pass; they don’t see the pink and red ribbons appear in the sky and turn Manhattan a kind of glowy steel color in contrast, the imminence of the city’s lights a given.

I wondered if the new cell phone tower on my roof made my landlord any money, and if the waves were giving us all cancer. And then I dismissed this thought, imagining the thousands of cell phone towers all over the city projecting waves out and around, and I painted the waves in color, and I bet they look like a giant 70s thread sculpture/wall-hanging thing of a light blue and dark blue ship with tall sails, and I bet our brains are right in the middle of all those threads, between the pins at the edge, getting incessantly bombarded from the bow and the stern and the mast. Bad for our health, yeah. Probably doesn’t matter if there’s a tower right above my head.

The smell of the baking bagels from the roof is even stronger than from my apartment. These bagels are a tease: cinnamon and raisin, onion, blueberry, it doesn’t matter; these bagels are not for sale. Hermetically bagged for shipment behind those walls, I wouldn’t even know it was a bagel factory were it not for the mistakes they throw away in the dumpsters outside and for the bagel-making people hanging around, smoking, transparent shower caps on their heads, and wearing what look like white nurse outfits. Maybe they're saving the misfit bagels from the rats.

I am as at peace in that moment on my roof as I may have ever been. This is one of those try-to-remember moments when things aren’t going right. You know, when you're alone, and you try to zip your dress, and you can’t quite get the zipper to the top, and you're unable to find the single-girl gadget that your sister gave you to elongate your reach when no one is around to help you attach your bracelet, or zip your dress, so you have to change clothes, and you're uncomfortable, and you hate what you have on because it isn’t the original thought? Or when there’s a nor'easter, and hail is pelting you in your face; water is leaking into your boots; your scarf is strangling you in the wind like it did Isadora (but not all the way); you’re late for teaching class because the trains are flooded; a stranger yells at you for bumping her accidentally with your bag, and you find out someone has charged trips to South Africa and Thailand on your debit card? During those kinds of days I will try to remember this moment. This moment, up here with the breeze and the planes and the strangeness and the millions of people all around me; this moment feels like home.

Purslane and Cherry Tomato Yogurt Salad Recipe

Without the tomatoes, this is a classic Turkish recipe from the Aegean region, commonly served cold in the summertime. Purslane, a weed, is one of the most nutritious plants on the planet, and contains even Omega-3 fatty acids. If you can’t find purslane, you could easily substitute baby spinach, or any other tender green of your choosing.

a substantial amount of purslane (or spinach), washed and trimmed
some cherry tomatoes, halved
a quart of yogurt (I used goats’ milk yogurt)
one garlic clove, minced
salt, to taste

Combine everything in a bowl, stir, and chill.

When ready to serve, drizzle with a little olive oil.

Similar recipes from A Hungry Bear Won't Dance: Zucchini Pancakes with Dill and Feta Cheese Recipe, Fresh Ricotta and Mint Recipe: a Spread with Purple Garlic and Olive Oil, Spring Fava Beans with Garlic Yogurt Recipe

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