Vaguely Mediterranean Chicken

You will need:
One dozen pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers*
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tbsp tomato purée
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper (as always, fresh ground is tastiest)

*note: if these come packed in olive oil, as is common, short the measure of the olive oil.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Add peppers, garlic, olives, and tomato purée. Add a little salt and pepper. Cook with occasional stirs for 3-4 minutes. Add chicken, cover pan, and turn heat down as low as possible; cook, turning chicken once, until it is white throughout. The recipe says this should be about eight minutes, but this varies widely with chicken thickness, so be sure to check the interior doneness with a sharp knife, and be careful if you’re using a non-stick surface. Serve immediately.

Pair with cucumbers in ranch or tzatziki sauce.



It endured for a thousand years.
Toes broken, arch bent,
tied with strips soaked in blood,
the young girls forced to walk on crippled limbs
to force the bindings ever tighter.
The death toll was unmarked, but high;
infection being most common in the young,
falls in the old.
The goal was a foot of three inches long.
Most women have ankles longer than that.

China had an Ash Girl,
one who saved a golden carp
and kept it, like a pet, in a secret pool.
Her jealous sisters killed and ate it;
she planted the bones,
which grew into a tree,
which granted wishes—does this sound familiar?
and gained her the love of a prince.

The dramatic necessity of the tiny shoe
is obvious; the unmistakeable signal
that the prince has found the correct partner.
The mother chopping off a heel or a toe
(“a mother cannot love a daughter and her daughter’s feet”)
is a symbol of how ruthless one can be
when in pursuit of power.

And yet, one wonders how much travelled along the Silk Road,
if a Frenchman, perhaps, heard the tales of the tiny feet,
the grace of the Lotus Walk,
the delicately embroidered shoes,
and it sparked a tale of fortune’s turn about,
the dispossessed coming back into her own.
He wouldn’t have heard the details;
three-year-olds handed over to foot-binders
to break them for beauty.

We have a knack for finding those things beautiful
which are harmful in the end.
Arsenic complexions
belladonna eyes
compressed and corseted waists—
perhaps the only surprising thing is that it ended.
It endured for a thousand years.

August 28, 2009

Smoked Salmon Salad

You will need:
Spring greens or torn lettuce (no iceberg, please!)
Carrot curls
Smoked salmon, “hot-smoked” style (like jerky)
1 hard-boiled egg, cut into slices
Kalamata olives
Feta cheese crumbles
Yellow or red bell pepper, cut into very thin strips (optional)
Olive oil

Toss the greens, carrot, raisins, and bell pepper, and put into bowls. Scatter the egg, kalamata olives, and feta over the salad; top with shreds of salmon. (Make sure you remove bones.) Lightly drizzle olive oil over the top and serve immediately.

Wilted Asian Salad

You will need:
Small cucumber (preferably under an inch and a half in diameter)
Daikon radish (preferred in Japanese cuisine; try an Asian market)
Kelp (no… really)
Rice wine vinegar
Shrimp, cooked and ready to eat, then chilled

Slice the cucumber and the daikon radish very, very thin. If you’ve got a mandoline, use that. You want slices of no more than a millimeter or two. Chop the kelp into little pieces. In a shallow bowl, soak them in rice wine vinegar for five to fifteen minutes. (I am fairly sure that you could leave them soaking from morning without damage, but let’s call that good.)

Serve in small portions with shrimp on top. Rice wine vinegar has a gentler flavor than white vinegar, so serve with something that complements a faintly bitter taste.