For Sara

It takes a village to….

It takes a village to write a blog. Whoops…that’s not the expression, is it?! But, in fact, Andy and I love and need every little input we get from our blogging friends and family. For example, our Albuquerque friend and blogger-helper, David, emailed me some comments on health and doctors in response to our last blog about healthy (or maybe unhealthy) trail mix.

David suggested I read Natural Causes by Barbara Ehrenreich. It’s a rather polemic book, given that Ehrenreich writes about how we are “over-doctored.” A reviewer sums it up this way: I found [it] comforting because it reinforced my own judgement that annual screenings for various diseases can lead to more problems with false positives, over medication, damage caused by the testing itself than they are worth beyond a certain age. Furthermore, the book affirms that various dietary prescriptions (eat this not that) are often contradictory and have little impact on longevity. Also, as the book details, you can exercise to exhaustion every day and still die young of a heart attack or cancer.

One of Ehrenreich’s most quoted lines from the book is this: “Once I realized I was old enough to die, I decided that I was also old enough not to incur any more suffering, annoyance, or boredom in the pursuit of a longer life.”

Take note of the figure on the treadmill

Ehrenreich, a prolific and liberal and highly-acclaimed (if polemic) writer, passed away last month at the age of 81. Though her name was familiar to me, it took David’s suggestion for me to delve deeper into who she was and what she wrote. After finding this article by her in a 1993 Time Magazine – “Burt, Loni, and Our Way of Life” – I was hooked. Here’s one of my favorite excerpts from it:

Consider that marriage probably originated as a straightforward food-for-sex deal among foraging primates. Compatibility was not a big issue, nor of course was there any tension over who would control the remote. Today, however, a spouse is expected to be not only a co-provider and mate, but a co-parent, financial partner, romantic love object, best friend, fitness adviser, home repair-person and scintillating companion through the wasteland of Sunday afternoons. This is, rationally speaking, more than any one spouse can provide.

Probably the overload began with the Neolithic revolution, when males who were used to a career of hunting and bragging were suddenly required to stay home and help out with the crops. Then came the modern urban-industrial era, with the unprecedented notion of the “companionate marriage.” Abruptly, the two sexes — who had gone for millenniums without exchanging any more than the few grunts required for courtship — were expected to entertain each other with witty repartee over dinner.

Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson – before it all went down

In my mind that’s a picture perfect description of the perils and pitfalls of marriage in this day and age.

Returning to my blog-writing – my next inspiration for this blog came from yet another source – our daughter Sara. She texted me this video of her and her friends practicing their salsa-dancing skills under a highway in Oakland, CA. It took me all of 2 seconds to realize the perfection of this video. One of Ehrenreich’s acclaimed books is Dancing in the Streets: a History of Collective Joy. One reviewer wrote, “When one reaches its final pages, one becomes more convinced that dance, that is, dance with no inhibitions or restraints, or “dancing in the streets”, is part of being human, a necessity like air, food, and water. A culture that has it is a vibrant and confident one. A culture where it is absent is a dysfunctional one.”

“Collective Joy”

My blog had come together. Except where was the food tie-in? The closest Ehrenreich ever got to writing about food was in her book Nickel and Dimed: on (Not) Getting By in America, but that’s about the impossibility of living in the U.S. on minimum wage, such as restaurant waitstaff often make. So I returned to Sara’s video. Salsa :). Of course.

I wasn’t sure whether salsa dancing preceded salsa as a Latin dip. It does not, according to this article from Tasting Table, What salsa came first? As early as 1571 a Spanish monk who wrote a dictionary translating Spanish-Nahuatl referred to an Aztec sauce as “salsa.”

We’re big into Mexican food at BigLittleMeals, so we’ve already posted some great salsas, but today’s recipe for salsa is one of our most favorite.

Roasted Tomato-Mint Salsa

  • Servings: makes 2+ cups
  • Print

This salsa goes well with chips – and also served with grilled chicken or carnitas. Adapted from the cookbook Tacolicious by Sara Deseran

  • 6 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced into about 1/2″ rounds
  • 1 small jalapeno chile, stemmed and deseeded
  • 1/4 c rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c packed chopped cilantro
  • 2 T packed chopped fresh mint
  • 1 T Diamond kosher salt

Place the oven rack about 4″ from the broiler and turn the broiler on. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the tomatoes, cut side down, the onion slices, and the chile on the sheet and broil for about 10-12 minutes or until everything is soft and a little charred. Cool.

Put the roasted ingredients and any juices in the pan into a food processor with the vinegar, cilantro, mint and salt and pulse until the mixture is almost – but not quite – smooth. You might need to add a couple tablespoons of water to the the consistency of a thick soup.

Serve immediately – at room temperature. Or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.

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