Monday, January 7, 2013

The green stuff

Sometime in the first half of last year, I resolved to maintain a pseudo-strict, pseudo-vegetarian lifestyle in my apartment. The good news: it technically worked. The bad news: it eventually devolved into eating almost nothing but bread, popcorn and muesli for a couple of months (low-GI varieties: I wouldn't want a horrifically imbalanced diet to be bad for me, after all).

To be fair, this wasn't solely for lack of trying, though I probably could've gotten my arse together for a few more cooked meals. Towards the end of last year, I was faced with the dilemma of accounting for some rather sudden and severe personal expenses, forcing the rest of my paycheck to choose between maintaining an active social lifestyle and taking care of basic dietary needs.

Craft beer is just, you know, really good.

Over the December break, I spent some time in Durban with friends and family. There, I was introduced to the beautiful world of salad creation by a friend who's trying out one of those fancy low-carb diets. And now I think I'm in love.

With salads, not the friend. Gross.

I never really grew up doing the salad thing. It was cooking or bust. I didn't see the point of eating anything that didn't get roasted, fried, nuked or otherwise uncomfortably heated at some point in its life before entering my face. As it turns out, however, salads are that beautiful medium between the world of cooking and the world (or deformed planetoid) of smearing paste on a sandwich and shoving it down the old esophagus.

So I've resolved to go a little more towards the green again -- nothing to do with New Years, la la la can't hear you, et cetera. Right now the idea is summarised as "make one of your meals today a fucking salad". Thus far it feels easier, more varied and profoundly more rewarding than putting something on the stove and waiting for it to catch fire in just the right way.

For interested parties, here is my recipe for the perfect salad based on my immediate and irrefutable impressions of this comestible medium:

1) Put a bunch of green stuff in a bowl. Lettuce is usually good. In fact, I'm pretty sure that it should be illegal to call something a salad without at least a little bit of green leafy stuff showing. People who try that should be ashamed of themselves. Other leafy greens like spinach, herbs and rocket are cool. I mention rocket specifically because it's just such a badass name for a plant.

2) With your base established, consider the supporting actors. Tomatoes are always a solid addition. I suggest cutting them up into tiny little pieces, though, because fuck tomatoes. Seriously, fuck them.

Damn right.

3) Onions should exist in everything, while cucumber is your loyal friend and would probably take a bullet for you. Other perennial visitors (adjust to your tastes) may include green pepper, sprouts, avocado, chopped up Victorian era hookers and perhaps some bean stuff.

4)Your salad, intended to be taken as a meal in and of itself, should be wrapped up with something relatively chunky and substantial to help your brain understand that you're actually eating food and not just accidentally chewing on a hive of Chappies wrappers. Croutons and apples are handy, but there's absolutely no shame in going for the meat if you're inclined. I often use vegan replacements, or allow myself some tuna because enough people have agreed that fish don't have feelings like the rest of us -- they just spend all their time farting in the sea and getting eaten by sharks. They don't care.

Tuna are basically the honey badgers of the ocean.

5) For the final, triumphant addition, get yourself a bucket (yes, a motherfucking bucket) of feta. Add a generous amount.

6) No, more than that.

7) Okay, just a little more than that. Seriously, you'll love it. Feta is a damn awesome food product, the finest invention the cheese gods have ever bestowed upon us and is usually made from the breastmilk of the virgin Mary herself. Keep adding more.

8) Go. More. You want this. You need this. Feta is the single glorious reason that any salad even exists. Preparing a salad without feta is like going to an orgy and realising that everyone's genitals have spontaneously vanished.

9) Really, man. Just go nuts with that feta! You'd kick your great-grandmother in the face -- on reality television if necessary -- if it meant you could have more.

10) Feta is your existence. Your meaning. It wriggles its way into your head and consumes you, leaving you a shallow husk of a person whose sole desire in life is to find and eat more. It latches onto the deepest, darkest part of you -- that place which no other human being has ever touched or understood, a carbon copy of the tiny psyche that inhabited you at the moment of your birth -- and fixates you so thoroughly that when the day comes for the light to finally die behind your eyes, you'll think of feta first and your loved ones second.


12) Right, that's enough.

13) Add appropriate salad dressing and enjoy.

You're welcome.

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