David has been watching bonsai videos lately. One in particular is crazy-charming to me. It’s a man from Nottingham, who is perhaps unlikely as a bonsai expert. He’s a bit burly, a bit brusque, though he has a lovely soft and matter-of-fact voice. As David pointed out, his hair is slightly wild and unruly, his beard is slightly wild and unruly, his dog’s fur is slightly wild and and unruly, but his bonsai work is beautifully precise. Do I love this? Of course I do. And I love the fact that watching bonsai videos has made David look at all of the trees in town with different eyes–the shape of them, the way they grow.
For some reason the bonsai videos have made me look at the vines along the towpath in a new way. Something about the traces of years’ past vines–their scars and skeletons–still showing against the new and growing vines is incredibly moving to me. With a bonsai tree (which could be 400 years old), with every little change or pruning you have to wait a year at least for it to grow. But the vines come back year after year, clinging to the warming stone and brick walls, twining with the dried remains of their ancestors. Growing faster than you can believe.
And along the same towpath, just a little farther down, they recently blocked off a bridge with big construction vehicles, with all the bells and whistles: warning signs and big men in High-Vis suits and lots of gear. But when I walked by with Clio one morning, it was just a few small pontoon platforms set on the canal against the wall, and the men in all their gear sitting next to each other on small chairs, building an old stone-on-stone wall with small trowels, spreading sand, stacking stones, chatting quietly in the chill but rapidly warming March morning. I like to think about the vines that will grow on that wall some day.
I also like to think that everywhere in the world right now, people are eating some version of green sauce. They might be dipping a pakora in mint sauce, or twirling pasta with basil pesto, or topping an empanada with salsa verde, or dabbing some pistou on their soup, or enjoying aji verde with whatever they eat it with in Peru. It’s herbs and aromatics and alliums. Perhaps some spice, some nuts, some oil and lime or lemon or vinegar. This version is loosely based on a variety of reports of the Peruvian Aji Verde, mixed with a middle eastern tarator sauce and a bit of Italian Pesto. It turned out very delicious. Holy trinity of lime, jalapeño and cilantro in play here. Recipe after the jump.
1 fat clove garlic, toasted or roasted for about 5 minutes
2 big handfuls cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, with seeds or without, depending on your heat preference
1/4 cup pinenuts, lightly toasted
Juice of about half a lime
hunk of cojito cheese, crumbled (leave out for veganimity)
Splash of olive oil
salt & pepper
Spices (optional) would be cumin &/or Smoked paprika, a pinch of each, either, or both
Warm water to thin to desired consistency
Combine everything in a food processor, blender, or (ideally) that little milkshake/smoothie thing that comes with some blenders. Blend until smooth. Add water to make it as think or thick as you like. Pour/scrape into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, add pepper and paprika, and serve!