Oddly, I was thinking about honesty on the way to work this weekend. I remember discovering, when I was little, that telling a lie was a lot more trouble than it was worth, because you had to remember the lie that you told, and it generally spawned more lies, and you had to remember those as well. Oh, what a confusion! I value honesty in human beings, of the not-telling-a-lie variety. And I value emotional honesty, as well, in art, and music, and film, and literature. In my opinion, all of the cleverness and skill and talent in the world are worth nothing if they’re not backed by emotional honesty. It’s a difficult quality to define, but you know it when you see it. For me, it’s closely connected to soulfulness and grace – two other indefinable but necessary qualities. And, as I was thinking about it this weekend, I realized that part of the reason I love certain hip hop artists is that they contain high levels of these particular elements. It’s a fact. You might not agree with me, but you can’t dispute it, because it’s indisputable. They’ve done studies. So many studies.
For instance, Goodie Mob’s Soul Food, which I know I’ve mentioned before, is, to me, full of honesty and, well, soul. And they mention collards, which allows me to gracefully guide this train of thought into the station. We got some collards from the farm, and I was thrilled. I thought about preparing them in a similar style to a dish we have at our favorite Ethiopian restaurant. Flavorful, but simple, with soft, comforting boiled potatoes. So that’s what I did. I really loved this dish! I think I practically ate the whole thing all by myself, and growled at anybody that tried to take a spoonful.
Here’s Goodie Mob’s Soul Food. (again!)
1 medium-sized bunch collards (8-10 large leaves)
2 T olive oil
1 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, minced
1 large clove garlic – minced
1 t mustard seeds
1/2 t fenugreek
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
3 or 4 large potatoes
juice of one lemon
salt and plenty of black pepper
Remove the stems from the collards, and chop the leaves quite finely.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, and boil the potatoes in their skins till they’re soft but not falling apart (about 1/2 hour, depending on their size). Let them cool till you can handle them, and then peel them and cut them into 1 inch chunks.
In a large skillet, warm the olive oil. Add the jalapeno, mustard seeds, and garlic. When the garlic starts to brown, add the collards. Sautee for a minute or two. Then add the spices, sugar and about two cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about an hour. When the collards feel as soft as you like them, and most of the water is absorbed, squeeze on the lemon juice, and season well with salt and pepper.