Friday, April 10, 2009

Pesto, Pickles, and Poetry: the Feasts of Spring

Dear Mouse,


Ok, now that that's out of the way...

It's been way too long since I posted here and in that time, SPRING has officially sprung!! Ok, the weather is terrible. BUT YESTERDAY it was HOT and sunny and I bought your birthday present at a Street Fair!

It always makes sense to me that so many Big Feasts take place right around this time. You just naturally feel like celebrating: Go, Earth, Go! Pass the peas! I've also always thought that our multi-ethnic lot in life affords you and I particular perspective on this. And since the notion of Deity played, shall we say, a minor role in our family's Rites of Spring, it was usually (what else) the Food that took center stage.

This year has been no exception. I'll try to go in order.

I. Spring Equinox - Sex/Power/God
(no relation to the annual Brown University hedonistic dance party of the same name)

As mentioned in the Egg Miracle entry a few weeks ago, the usual crew gathered at my place on 3/21 and- with wine, food, flowers, plants, eggshells and paintbrushes - welcomed the season. This ancient holiday celebrates (what else?!) the earth's renewal. It is associated with the pagan fertility goddess Ostara, whose symbols were the egg and the rabbit (hmmm...), whose alternate spellings include Eostre and Eostar (hmm), and after whom I would totally name a pet rabbit.

My slammin' seasonal menu this year: Chase's asparagus vinaigrette (make this, you will NOT be sorry), couscous with feta and chopped veggies, and a baked salmon topped with mint pesto. I hadn't made Mint Pesto before but I had a hunch it would be kind of perfect and I wasn't disappointed. This no-cheese concoction is very simple and fresh -- chopped mint, walnuts, olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. While I think of Basil Pesto as Queen of Summer, the mint version really tastes like spring.

II. Passover - Freedom/Liberation/Plagues/Hors d'Oeuvres
How is this night different from all other nights?
A) Brisket.
Velvety, Gravylicious Brisket.

B) Homemade Freakin' Matzo Ball Soup.

Why, why so fluffy??

C) The Pickle Guys.

Ok. Special Report. If you live in New York, have not had these, and think that you like pickles, run do not walk. I always eat too many on holidays but I'm smiling while the acid eats my stomach. Warning: may cause you to be irritiating and smug when offered pickle substitutes in other cities.

III. Easter (Rebirth/Renewal)
(See Pagan Etymology Above, Add One Cool Guy Coming Back from Death)

One springy aspect this year of both P'Over and P'Easter was having Little People around, which really made both celebrations so much, much noisier. I mean, evocative of life's renewal. For example, at the first, we were treated to the singing of the Four Questions by two F'adorable little girls (our Portland cousins in town!!!) rather than the muttering of them by, say, me, or someone about to graduate college. And on Easter at your place, the Boyfriend's perfect little nieces and gorgeous sister brought on the Attack of the Boo-Must-Make-Magnolia-Cupcakes...Itis.

I dressed in purple and yellow to match them and feel no shame about this.

IV. National Poetry Writing Month, AKA NaPoWriMo - Creativity
Ok while this is not a Holiday per se, I think it perfectly celebrates the season. Each April, writers everywhere commit to a poem a day for 30 days and post online to be held accountable. It's an explosion of creativity. This year, I joined in (with songs) and have been surprised and truly grateful for the exercise - it broke a year-long writers' block and reunited me with the love of composing. Can't nothing, even mint pesto, be more Springy than that.

In the spirit of NaPoWriMo, I'll close with a fantastically appropriate poem I found by dear friend and badass writer EKT.

when I tell you I love to eat
I mean I love to hold the pieces
in my mouth like wet merchants,
each new thing baring some far
away story of salt or blood, spring
or musk to sell to my foolish lord
tongue, who is fat and dancing
with each.

I consider my need to swallow a
handicap. I consider my teeth
wolves. I consider myself chemically
imbalanced at times, but for a
chunk of gruyere and an apple. I
have been so take by the soft pink
sliced from bone, the cracked seeds,
the clotted milk and winking fruit
that has kissed my ugly breath, swelled
my never loved belly, tell me:
what love would die to fill my mouth?
who could ever want me like that?

Gotta go write #20.

The Boo


pdxblogmommy said...

Seriously, these photos of Passover dinner hardly do it justice though I agree with your comments on each of those three things. Equally stunning and scruptious was the wine we drank (not enough but oh well) and the sweet potatoes with apples on top which was surprisingly good.

Best of all though was seeing you all, the Bird and the Peanut singing the 4 questions, and the nephew's frog lah-dee-dah song.

Next year at a larger table.


Arlene said...

Having the whole family together - except of course for not having Sam hoo :( is what made the holiday year I hope we have everyone here again - with another new little addition! Hooray. Love the post - love the cupcakes.
the Tante

Anonymous said...

so I wrote about how I loved this entry...loved the pictures and the poem and wanted the recipes for your mint pesto and i see I'm doing something wrong so trying again....but must to sleep..with dreams of pickles and cupcakes dancing in my sense memory