Yenkinamaihlapi


If you missed my other post, let me remind you of a fun word: Mamihlapinatapai (sometimes spelled mamihlapinatapei) is a word from the Yaghan language of  Tierra del Fuego, listed in The Guinness Book of World Records  as the “most succinct word”, and is considered one of the hardest words to translate. It refers to “a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other will offer something that they both desire but are unwilling to suggest or offer themselves.”

I love this word, and think that we need more such succinct ones, so I suggested a new word: Yenkinamaihlapi – Yenkina means to be afraid, ihlapi means to be at a loss of what to do next, ma – is a reflective/passive prefix. I think I might define this word as “a fear shared by two people, each at a loss for how to go about something”. You know this moment, when you throw in the towel because you feel like you have tried every thing you know how to do. Or that resistance to going back to something that you really enjoyed once, but somehow it went south and you don’t know how to make it fun again. My friend has a bit of this going on with someone. He said to me the other day, “If I could fix things I would in a blink, but I really need her to come back and show me that things are going to be different.” It kind of broke my heart, because I have experienced a similar situation. And not only do I know how he feels, but I can guess that she feels the exact same way.

What happens sometimes to those of us who resign ourselves to believing that something is stuck, un-fixable, too difficult to deal with, or is just somehow not what we think we want even though we wanted it once, is the inevitable and proverbial “wake-up call”. It’s usually not pretty. I’ve had one or two myself. Generally, we know we are lost or stuck, but we either try denial or put our effort in a direction away from that which seems most difficult. You know what happens with that, right? The fate-train of life just keeps dropping you back off at the same station and you find yourself feeling the same frustration with a different job, spitting out the same angry words and tears with a different person and asking your self the same questions again.

Fate. Fatalism: acceptance, destinism, determinism, necessitarianism, passivity. I used to think I wasn’t much of a cook. I had resigned myself to the fact that cooking just wasn’t my thing. I had tried all different sorts of recipes, but I was just no good. Especially compared to my other friends who can throw a recipe together at the drop of hat with what ever they have hanging around, like culinary magicians. Even with my grandmother special secrets I often struggled. I discovered there were two things I was missing. One was a basic understanding of food chemistry and the other was mindfulness. You have to know how things will react together. How do you balance acids and fats? How do you determine how much of a spice you need? Temperature, marinades, timing. It’s all important. You also have to be in the moment.  A recipe only gives you a guide for what works in that particular situation. Which can be handy. But making a recipe and knowing how to cook are two different things.

When I talk to my friend I know there is a truly deep and abiding love he has for this woman, but he has thrown in the towel. Perhaps if they learned the chemistry of communication and practiced some mindfulness together they might come up with their own, beautiful recipe for love.

I made this dish one day with the above mentioned friend. It is a wonderful recipe from Showmethecurry.com.  Apparently Oly does not have curry leaves so we had to improvise with some Garam Masala. We had a few happy accidents. We cooked the zucchini a bit more than the recipe called for (so it didn’t quite look the same as the pic below), and added way too much cilantro which turned out to be fantastic. We also added some lime juice after cooking. I guess it just goes to show that you can know all sorts of things about cooking (and love) but sometimes a little serendipity is the best ingredient.

Zucchini Curry

Zucchini – 1 lb, chopped thin
Oil – 1 Tbsp
Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Whole Dry Red Chilies – to taste
Asofoetida – pinch
Curry Leaves – 1 sprig
Green Chilies – to taste, finely chopped
Salt – to taste
Lime Juice – 1 Tbsp or to taste
Cilantro – 10 sprigs, finely chopped

Method:

1. Heat Oil in a medium pan on medium heat.
2. Add Mustard Seeds and allow them to pop.
3. Add Whole Dry Red Chilies, Asofoetida, Curry Leaves and Green Chilies. Stir.
4. Add Salt and Lime Juice and stir.
5. Quickly add Zucchini and toss to cook for 2 minutes.
6. Switch off stove and mix in Cilantro Leaves.

_________________________________________________________

“The fates lead him who will; him who won’t they drag.”― Joseph Campbell

“A life lived in fear is a life half lived.” – from Strictly Ballroom

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