Chickpea flour-battered shishito peppers

In the evenings Clio and I might walk to a field on the edge of town. Each day it’s a little darker; autumn works quickly. We’re probably not supposed to be there. We’ve been warned off other fields by the police. And she could run away from me, it’s not fenced in and she’s done it before, in other fields, in other years. Maybe there’s a ghostly deer she could follow into the thicket, along the creek, to the big road. Of course I go through the list of all the worries, every single time; all tangling with the bigger list of worries, which has grown and grown in the last half-year.

But I drop her leash, I let her run with the frantic joy of a fast girl who has been stuck in a house for half a year. She comes back to me, and Is there anything more beautiful than the beaming crossing white paws of a grey dog, flashing towards you in a forbidden field in the near-dark? I think not.

We might walk back on the towpath. Nearly dark now, screech owls asking their querulous questions. The lights on fences and sheds come on as we pass, they light for us, and make a glowing tunnel through the trees. I’m talking to people in my head. I’m talking to people I know, and people I’ve never met. I’m talking to Clio, who looks up at me in the dark with her smoky beautiful eyes. I have so much anger and sadness that’s been building in me for the last 8 months, the last 3 years.

The chalk-white path is striped with lights and shadow. The canal water is lacquer-black, with slowly floating leaves glowing in the warmth of light from houses. We come to our stop on the path at a house with a beautiful little garden clinging to it along the towpath, a garden with a magnificent fig tree. All the long cold spring it was wrapped in burlap, dormant, but by the last weeks of summer it was vibrant, verdant, full of beautiful small figs. The owners of the fig tree, whose names I didn’t know then though I do know them now, gave me three beautiful figs. They were so rosy and pretty, and we ate them with honey.

And this is what has made all the difference, not just in the last 8 months, not just in the last four years, but (I have to believe) always. A moment of personal connection, a gesture of generosity, a gift of something grown and cared for. Certainly the value of friendship and decency has appeared in a stark and heightened light in our season of isolation. Certainly after four years of anger, hatred, and division raining down from above, kindness seems rare and important. It’s hard to think of things to be thankful for, lately, but surely this is one, the appreciation for small moments of connection, the understanding of how precious they are.

Ordinary friends, I want/need to write again. I’ve been dormant and discouraged. I apologize in advance for any crappy posts I may post, including this one. I’m rusty and well out of practice of writing anything at all. Of writing anything at all I care about.

This summer we got shishito peppers on the regular from our CSA. Eating them like this was pretty much my favorite thing for a while. It’s basically shishito pakoras, but there something so fun about eating an entire pepper! Seeds and stem and all. It’s just delicious, but mostly it’s fun. And I’ve read that though they’re mild and sweet, there’s often a surprisingly hot one in the mix. I love that idea! We haven’t encountered one yet, but you never know. You could easily mix up the spices here, or just use curry powder or garam masala, or any of the spice mixes available in this day and age.

Here’s my musical obsession from the last few months. Mano Negra with Mala Vida. I love the little film, I love the song, I love it all!


3 thoughts on “Chickpea flour-battered shishito peppers

  1. Your walk sounds refreshing & the figs looks luscious. Your lack of enthusiasm is completely relatable. I look forward to trying your pepper recipe. My husband loves them and I usually just toss with olive oil in a pan, oven or on the grill.

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