I’ve been thinking lately that hope is some sort of involuntary muscle. We have absolutely no control over it. You can tell yourself not to get your hopes up. You can believe that you’re not getting your hopes up. You can lie to yourself about it so cleverly that you don’t know you’re doing it. But when you’re disappointed, and you feel your hopes crashing to great depths, you realize that you’d been hopeful all along, despite your best intentions. And when your hopes come to rest, down there in the deep depths, you can tell yourself that you’ll keep them down this time, you’ll suppress them and block their every attempt to rise again. But it won’t work. You can’t keep them down any more than you can stop your heart beating just by thinking about it. Your hopes will rise again all around you, though you can’t see them and maybe even can’t feel them, and before you know it you’ll be working on something again. You’ll forget the rejection and disappointment, and you’ll try to make connections. You’ll try to give your hope something solid and substantial to float on, something not so easily dashed and capsized. This must be true for everybody, however cynical they are, however much success and riches and love they have. They must feel the same cycle of hopes rising and falling and rising again, for all things big and little in their life. It must be involuntary for everyone. Doesn’t it seem sometimes that hope is necessary for survival, as necessary as air?
These tacos are very autumnal! Warm colors, warm flavors, smoky sweet and spicy. Quick and easy to make, too. We ate them with warm tortillas, grated sharp cheddar, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado. All the usual suspects! And basmati rice of course. You could just eat it over rice, as is. Or you could add some broth and make it saucier, and eat it as a soup or stew with crusty bread. Vegan if you leave the butter out!
Here is Jordil Saval with Good Again by Tobias Hume, which comes after a song called “My hope is decayed.”
2 T olive oil
1 smallish leek, or 1 largish shallot cleaned and diced quite fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small hot pepper, seeds removed, minced
1 t fresh thyme, 1 t fresh rosemary, a few fresh sage leaves, all washed and chopped
3 or 4 sweet potatoes, washed and cut into slices about 1/2 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 t smoked paprika
2 smallish tomatoes, chopped
A few large handfuls baby spinach, chopped
1 t butter
1 t balsamic vinegar
salt and plenty of freshly ground peppers
To serve: Chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, basmati rice, warm tortillas, hot sauce, grated sharp cheddar cheese.
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot or leek, stir and cook a minute. Add the garlic, pepper and herbs, stir and cook half a minute. Add the sweet potato. Stir to coat with herbs and oil, and cook for a minute or two until it starts to brown. Add the chickpeas and a little water or a splash of white wine. Cook for a few minutes.
Add the tomatoes and smoked paprika. Add about half a cup of water, cover, and cook until the sweet potatoes are softish, about ten minutes. Add the spinach, cook till it’s wilted. Add the butter, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook until it’s as dry as you like it.
Serve with rice, warm tortillas, grated sharp cheddar, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, avocado, whatever you like!