You know how foodies (& other people, too) sometimes like to poll each other on what their last meal would be? Extravagant requests come up, tall fantasy orders for the prison chef (assuming this last meal would be before you get sent off to the chair at midnight).
I’ve always said it would have to be something I cook for myself. Even if they couldn’t let me cook in the kitchen, I could at least toss a salad for myself in my cell. How sweet, how profoundly self-loving it is, to cook for yourself: an unbroken throughline from thought or desire to action & creation to mouth to stomach, a completed circuit. I make my salad exactly how I want it.
This is comfort food for me, a late-night salad:
3 or 4 handfuls of small lettuces, mostly Little Gems (from Blue Heron)
1/2 of a large Dapple Dandy pluot
3 small pink radishes
flat leaf parsley
sherry vinaigrette (olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt & pepper)
I don’t want a lot of ingredients at 10 pm when I’m sad for no specific reason & lots of specific reasons, both at once. I want something simple & beautiful & nurturing, & I want to make it myself, taking my time to pay attention to what I’m doing, making tiny adjustments & changes as I move toward perfecting this small, finite vision. Maybe that’s why salad is so comforting to me: it is an easily attainable* perfection when so much else is so impossibly far from perfect.
I started by washing the leaves, spinning them dry & dumping them in the bowl. Then I mandolined the radishes, scattering the dots of them on top of the leaves. I cut a pluot in half & mandolined most of the half into sheer, soft little sheets that folded upon themselves; what was left, I realized I wanted cut into tiny chunks. Then I chopped some parsley, stirred up my dressing, tossed the salad, & served half of it onto my darling’s plate. I ate my half right out of the big salad bowl, because that feels good too in its own way.
There is no real border between the making & the eating of a late-night comfort salad. It’s the whole process that soothes from start to finish. Making a salad I want to eat is something I can rely on in myself, something I can always touch when too much is uncertain. Things feel more hopeful after that.
*Yes, I know it’s not easily attainable for most people. Chances are it’s within reach for most people reading this blog, though.