Hearts are such mysterious things. I used to be so flippant about dating when I was younger. My friend might say I’m flippant now after turning down 156 date requests from some dating site. It’s probably true. “There are billions of people in the world…I’m sure you will find someone else.” I’ve used that line more than once and had it used on me a few times. My answer was generally, “Hey, your’re right. See ya.” Sure there were some I cried over. There are some I still like. But there are two who have kept a hold on my heart.
You think you know love until it really happens to you. It leaves not in a week, not in a month, not in a year, it’s the kind of love where someone never leaves your heart. As if their ghost has set up shop in there. Sometimes you don’t even recognize it at first. It’s not as if I can’t live without the person. It’s not even that I’m unhappy. There is just what someone might call an emptiness inside.
The first time I told myself that it’s not really about the person, it’s about my life and I can “fix” that. But, I don’t think I need to be fixed and it is certainly not that I need someone in my life or I could have picked one of those 156 guys. I do not want to confuse wanting a person I love with a need for some generic kind of love. I know myself well enough now to understand where that feeling of “emptiness” comes from. I will always harbor an itch for a little adventure. I will always be looking for something new and vibrant in my life and that sort of lust entails a bit of longing and emptiness as well. I’m okay with that. What I have decided is that I can choose to define it as emptiness or I can choose to define it as having room in my life. I’m going with the later.
I suppose someone might use that age old metaphor of the glass half full thing, but to me that externalizes it, makes it too finite, too defined. It implies that you are looking out onto something and making a value judgement. I would prefer to look in on things and not judge myself as being empty or full, as if there is some magical amount that will make me whole, but as being continually expansive and welcoming.
Can I say the same about that love that never really goes away? Maybe. Yes, I think so. It is not, in the end, a matter of being somehow less without them. They are not glasses, they are not finite, incomplete, less than they could be or half of what the should be. Perhaps this too is better defined not as emptiness, but as room in my heart to welcome them back.
This is a recipe compliments of Smitten Kitchen that my friend Indianized last night. I didn’t put in the amounts of chilies and masala, make them as spicy as you would like. They would be great with applesauce and sour cream, or you can make room in your stomach for something new and try some mint chutney and curd.
Potato-Parsnip Latkes with Green Chilies and Masala
- 1/2 pound white potato
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 pound parsnips (about 2 large or 4 medium)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Fresh chopped green chili peppers
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Garam Masala
- Olive oil (or a mix of olive and vegetable or peanut oil) for frying
Preheat: Oven to 250 degrees. Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with foil and leave them in the oven until needed.
Prepare vegetables: Peel vegetables and grate them on the large holes of a box grater or (my preferred method) using the shredding blade of a food processor. If using the food processor, I like to lay the vegetables sideways in the chute, in an attempt to get the longest strands of vegetables. This creates latkes that look like little piles of mops, which is my goal.
Transfer shredded vegetables to a lint-free dishtowel or square of cheesecloth, and wring out as much liquid as possible. Let stand for two minutes, then wring again. Wetness is the enemy of crisp, light latkes, so we want to get rid of as much as possible.
Make batter: Transfer wrung-out vegetables to a large bowl. Add lemon juice. In a tiny dish, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and any herbs or additional seasonings and toss with vegetables, evenly coating the strands. In the same tiny dish, whisk your egg(s) and then stir this into the vegetable-flour mixture, evenly coating the strands.
Prepare pan: Heat a large, heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Once skillet is hot, add 3 tablespoons oil and heat oil until shimmering. If you’re unsure, you can flick a droplet of water onto the oil; if it hisses and sputters, you’re good to go.
Cook: Using a fork or your fingertips (letting the eggy batter drain off a little is good), gather spoonful-sized mounds of battered vegetables and drop them onto the heated skillet. When golden underneath, 3 to 4 minutes later, flip pancakes. [If you’re using a gas range, you’ll likely have to rotate your pancakes 180 degrees halfway through the cooking time so that they color evenly underneath.] Cook on the other side until nicely bronzed underneath, another 2 to 3 minutes, and transfer to paper towels briefly to drain pancakes, before transferring them again to tray(s) in warm oven. If latkes cook too quickly or slowly on the stove, adjust the heat accordingly.
Add more oil if needed (you want to keep the pan at that 3 tablespoon level), being sure it is heated before adding more pancakes to the skillet. Repeat with remaining batter. I like to keep the latkes in the oven for at least 10 minutes to ensure they’ve cooked through before serving them.