Second week back in Vancouver from my Book Writing Tour 2013 travels, I immerse myself in another of my favourite pursuits: food! My intense cravings for veggies are just barely satiated by the abundance and diversity of the fresh produce from the downtown farmers market. On a sunny afternoon, the market’s juicy tomatoes, fragrant basil, and earthy cilantro, all chopped and seasoned with minced garlic and olive oil, become bruschetta that I enjoy on my balcony with a glass of rosé. I marvel at the seedlings that have sprouted in only a few short days in the container on the ground beside me. I eagerly await my harvest of the mesclun salad greens, which originate from Provence.
As I indulge while writing this, in several steamed cauliflower florets, lightly sprinkled with toasted sesame oil, I reflect on my affinity for eating, travelling and writing, and how much I enjoy writing about making and sampling delicious, nutritious, and visually appealing dishes that I often discover during my travels. Feeding my body feeds my soul.
On another afternoon, I try out a very effective and sensuous tip for softening the leaves of kale, which I learned from my Torontonian hostess during my stay in Toronto on my Book Writing Tour 2013. After shredding the kale into bite size bits, cut into them some avocado, squeeze in some lime juice, and with complete abandon, get into the makings of this salad with both hands, mashing the avocado all over the leaves. From another friend, who treats me to a quinoa kale salad this week in Vancouver, I learn a tip for making whole almonds more edible in a salad. Thus, after a couple of hours in the fridge, I top up this lunch treat with some chickpeas, crumbled goat cheese, and the second new addition to my salad-making: olive oil and balsamic vinegar soaked cranberries and almonds.
Along with my veggie cravings, I am also on the prowl for a variety of duck meats for the French salade Landaise that I featured in my final story post from Paris on my Book Writing Tour 2013, and which I would like to try making. Finding duck meats in Vancouver is proving to be a challenge, and so far, I have ended up with: 2 duck breasts from 2 different markets; duck pate infused with foie gras and Périgord truffle; and chicken gizzards from among the packet of giblets.
While I patiently acquire the more precise ingredients for my salade Landaise, I make a duck-inspired homemade French dinner in celebration of the 29th anniversary of my fateful coming to Canada from my native Poland on account of my puzzling physical condition that is a significant subject of my book. Certainly the richness of French cuisine is reminiscent of Polish food, which is perhaps why I enjoy them both so. I begin this feast with the duck pate from my imprecise duck meats stash, spread over a fresh baguette from a nearby French boulangerie. Sadly, it is no match for the one with which my Parisian host has spoiled me during my Paris stay on my Book Writing Tour 2013. For the entrée, I pan sear, then bake, one of the 2 duck breasts I now have in my possession, and loosely following a recipe, I make yam potatoes in Old French Style, replacing nutmeg with smoked paprika and parsley with herbes de Provence. Buttered baby lima beans complete the dish, and Chat-en-Oeuf rosé wine stands in for the more renowned but difficult to obtain in Vancouver, Châteauneuf du Pape.
As part of my August 10th celebrations of my Canadian life’s beginning, I take myself that evening to the theatre on a more prescribed solo Artist Date. My muse is a Jacobean tragedy of “Women Beware Women”, which plays at the Jericho Art Centre, where I saw “We Are Three Sisters” – a play about the Brontë Sisters: Anne, Charlotte, and Emily – before departing on my Book Writing Tour 2013. Although I do not specifically seek these out, I find that there are quite a few stories and screenplays about the plight of women from past centuries, oddly all written by men. While, themselves, inspirational stories of strong and self-willed women, in an age where idleness was at most expected of and permitted to non-peasant women, their gallant portrayal causes me to reflect on how with my book and my story, that I as a woman write myself, I might contribute to bringing more herstorical balance to these issues as well.
As I nourish my body and cultivate my soul, sadly technology drains my energy and sucks my brainpower. Ever since losing all my Contacts in an inexplicable blip while in Paris during my Book Writing Tour 2013, my iTouch has been fraught with peril. The latest drama has been the mysterious disappearance of my historical Calendar entries, on which I heavily depend to remind me of the barrage of events of the last several years that compelled me to share my story through a book. While the latest technological glitch mirrors the frustrations I am presently experiencing in some parts of my life and with certain aspects of telling my story, perhaps it also serves as a trifler distraction from those more haunting reflections.
Seeking solace in my love of good food, I relish in the making and the tasting of this week’s Special Dish for the Week: Smoked Paprika Eggplant Salad with Tahini-Yogurt Dressing.