I am a great planner. In fact, I created a grandiose calendar where I wrote the days I was supposed to sit down and browse relevant, interesting seasonal recipes from the stash of cookbooks I have sitting next to the couch, with post-its between them hoping to be, one day, removed. I had planned the days I was meant to list the ingredients I needed, the day for the shopping, and finally, the day for the cooking. I wanted to cook something interesting every week to make dinners a bit more adventurous and exciting. I planned to cook and taste, then try again and finally decide if the recipe was worth mentioning here, or just ticking and moving on.
I had a plan for writing, too. I wanted to write every week, a little every evening, and to photograph every weekend – to be more disciplined with the bits of creativity that dot my daily life. I wanted to put down in words and visuals all the ideas that pass through my mind at the speed of light – all the food, recipes, stories and bits of life brought back by an event of a sudden connection of thoughts – and are gone before I can record them. I had grand plans to sit down and just pour down onto a physical or virtual page all the ideas that blur my mind during the day and that make me anxious at work.
I am as good a planner as I am a procrastinator. I am undisciplined. Tired. Lazy. My plans don't take into account these aspects as I fly high in hope and optimism. What happened instead was my shopping pattern returned to be casual, instinctual, dictated by habit and sudden fancies after only a week. My recipe research dropped, and I returned to cook the things I feel comfortable putting together without any recipe but rather pulling together flavours and ingredients from my pantry and assembling them in fashions I think might work. I struggled to write in the evening, to find inspiration or just the right set of mind, and quickly returned to my readings and series-watching habits.
Writing a little every day – that is my biggest goal, yet it feels so unachievable right now. My mornings are too early and too fast before I head out of the door to my whirlwind of events. My evenings are late, and the worst time of the day for me to write, unless I swallow that fifth cup of coffee and write all in one go through the small hours of the night. I usually come home tired and mentally drained – a cacophony of stimuli and a handful of fragmented sentences. Home to a husband that demands my attention and with whom I want to spend my little spare time. In the evening, I am the furthest away from a decent storyteller I can ever possibly be.
Still, I ache to be here. I have been sitting on this post for days, looking for a good angle and a good story to tell about this salad, and the more I thought about it, the less I could say. The less hard I tried, the more clear it became that this salad tells no other story than the story of myself, here and now: of me eating somehow healthily, using seasonal produce turned into a hopefully exciting salad that could come together as quickly as possible. A salad made with ingredients that didn't take any room in my shoebox size refrigerator; and that would keep my green cravings at stake after a long day under the fluorescent light bulbs of the office. It tells the story of someone who likes to cook and eat well, but who struggles with time and energy. Someone who would gladly eat leftover soup for three days in a row than cooking for one hour after dumping my bags on the floor and taking my shoes off.
Thankfully, little planning, time or energy is required for this salads – just a trip to the greengrocer to get some vibrant, fresh seasonal ingredients. Oddly, this is my favourite time of the year for salad because it is when fennel, bitter leaves (the love of radicchio is in my genes) and citrus are in season – a heavenly combination that is extremely versatile and rewarding. It all makes for a lovely dinner alongside some pan-fried trout, some chicken or just a piece of cheese and some bread (and wine).