After the morning rituals of coffee and writing, praying, and listening, I headed to the kitchen to make dinner with enough time for it to get to know itself better before we would eat this evening. I found myself uncharacteristically working on more than one dish at a time. I usually find that rather chaotic, but this morning, it worked. I was in a place of great harmony in the kitchen…both within the realm of flavors as well as within the balance of silence and conversation inside myself…a balance of considering things and musing with God. A mayo-dijon mustard chicken salad with diced cucumber and green onion was done in a tick…it is something I have done many times before and the proportions come naturally via pinches, dices, spoonfuls. The chicken was cooking while I was dicing for the other part of the meal, I was making the dressing while something else was boiling… it all worked. But, that said, the other salad I was making was much more deliberate, measured, in some way important…I wanted to get it right and I was making it up as I went along.
CousCous Summer Salad
2 c. dry pearled couscous (the bigger grain-size) ; 3c. liquid ; 1 1/2 zucchini, diced fine ; 1 carton mushrooms, rough chopped ; 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained well–save the liquid — juice of a lime and lemon ; enough olive oil to have it come together while whisking ; two bunches green onions, sliced up through light green ; salt and sugar to taste
Boil the liquid (I included the reserved tomato juice as part of the 3 c.) with a dollop of olive oil–add couscous–let boil for five minutes or so–test it periodically after four minutes. Drain in fine sieve when done. Mushrooms and zucchini in a skillet with some olive oil for a couple of minutes until just beginning to soften. Toss zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, and couscous together in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, squeeze the juice from the lemon and lime, add a pinch of salt, a good pinch of sugar, and begin to whisk. While whisking, drizzle in olive oil just until it comes together and won’t take any more. Taste and adjust salt, sugar. Toss in the green onions and let it steep a while. Then dump the whole bowlful over the couscous mixture and toss with a large spoon.
What I liked most about that salad was the salty/sweet/citrus of the dressing and how that began to permeate everything…it got together with the onion, conversed with the zucchini and mushrooms, danced with the tomato, and became one with the couscous.
And in that mysterious way that I have come to realize and accept as the way my mind works, those flavors got me thinking about my summer… This summer. The Incredible Summer. A summer where I have known both sweetness and salt, have known tang, bite, fullness, and delight.
I have washed the feet of my sister who believed in me enough to give me a chance to translate at an international meeting; I have sat at table with a community from five countries and shared both the nourishment of a meal and the nourishment of stories. I had a mango hedgehog on my plate for breakfast, bats come to dinner, and two hummingbirds flying together closer than arms length in front of me. I’ve been two weeks with an incredibly international group of over forty of my sisters, listened in and spoken in two different languages at the same time, and traveled by bus under three different names, none my own. I have been too tired to know what language I was speaking, lost in the midst of conversations, and panicked on a train. I have been welcomed for who I am, been extended the precious gift of friendship, and invited to share what I love. I have played drums and ping-pong and tapped a message on a wall. I have been witness to new life and hope, made mistakes, and hurt a friend.
I have asked forgiveness, I have offered forgiveness, I have broken bread, shared chapati, and passed the tortillas… And over and again, I have offered my thanks to the Hati Kudus Jesus, Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, and Sacred Heart of Jesus.
My summer. This summer. This incredible Summer… salty and sweet, full, flavorful, nuanced, complex, to be savored, learned from, shared.
If it be your will, let the journey continue, Al-Latif, The Subtle One, you who know the delicate meanings of everything. (From the 99 Beautiful Names of God.)