Monday, June 11, 2012

purple falafel and tortipitas

We packed up our car and drove north. That's the basic shape of the story. With us in our car we brought very basic supplies, plus an embarrassing lot of files and books.

The truck full of our superabundance of possessions (again, mostly books and the bookcases they require) will arrive next week, we hope. For this in-between time we live in the echoey space of relative emptiness. It's feast and famine, I know: when the truck arrives we will be overwhelmed with unpacking and settling, and shortly thereafter with work. But for now, we live into the quiet days of preparation and rest.

We use our time, for instance, to make meals from simple ingredients. Our first dinner was a Greek salad, and I stored the leftover chickpeas with leftover beets. We ate the beats on another salad but saved the chickpeas for fake falafel, just a mush of them with chopped parsley and egg and cumin and garlic. They were strange looking and tasty.

We also made homemade tortillas, twice, the second time around a bit thicker so that they were almost pitas. (Flatbreads of the world unite in my muddled American cooking. The second round also swapped wheat bran for a bit of the white flour.) Here is a recipe, adapted from several blogs and allrecipes entries:
Mix 2 cups flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon oil. Stir in 3/4 cup warm water. Knead until it comes together, break into 8 pieces, roll these into balls, and keep damp under a towel. Heat a heavy skillet on medium-high, then roll the bits of dough out as thin as you can manage (or slightly thicker for thicker flatbread) and cook in the dry skillet, maybe 30 seconds per side. Keep warm under a towel.
I tell the purple falafel and tortipitas tale because I am a bit homesick--go figure--and I am remembering the last time I felt this way, last August and September after we'd moved to Montana, and the comfort I found in cooking. It's the same this time. Two nights ago, I stood at the counter slicing cucumbers into a salad and thinking about how many places I've sliced cucumbers: Michigan and Ohio, Macedonia, a little hotel off the Aegean in Greece, Illinois, Montana, and now Saskatchewan. In how many kitchens have I stood with a knife and a green-skinned fruit-vegetable, slicing and dicing and chopping the white flesh to feed myself and others? In how many more will I find myself, doing the same?

My falafel may have been purple, but it tasted like home. My tortillas may have been strangely shaped, but they reminded me of Clark Street. There is something solid and good in the act of preparing (and consuming!) food, and I will trust the practice to midwife me into this new phase and place.

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