Kale and new potatoes with lemon and sage

kale and new potatoes with lemon and sage

kale and new potatoes with lemon and sage

Here at the Naive Political Philosophy department of The Ordinary, we’re alarmed and dismayed by a pervasive and corrosive trend that we’ve noticed. What is it? You ask. Well, (we answer) it’s nothing other than the very breakdown of all communication into cynical marketing speak–insipid at its best and genuinely pernicious at its worst. Everybody is trying to sell us something, and it’s getting us down! All forms of communication–real mail, e-mail, phone calls, visitors to our esteemed institution–it’s all somebody asking for money, with a product for sale. It’s almost gotten so we don’t trust a friendly gesture, any more, and isn’t that a terrible shame. Everything the boys bring home from school is asking them to sell something or buy something, they’re learning how to be little consumers, little salesmen. This isn’t a new problem, and it hasn’t crept up on us in secret, it’s been going on for decades, and it’s poured over our heads by the steaming bucketful, as if there was no shame in it at all, as if it was a system that makes sense. And it’s down to the very words we speak with. We read the OED, we’re not ashamed to admit it, and we’re saddened to see the trajectory of almost every word from something mysterious and meaningful to something lacking in meaning or confounding in meaning, used to make us want to buy something or to describe the way people buy things. Because it’s an art, a study, a science, a career, this method of persuading people to part with their money for something they don’t need, this way of appealing to people’s insecurities, of making them feel empty and insufficient, of making them feel ugly and inferior. It’s all part of a system that we defend with our lives, that we can’t question or change, because it’s been sold to us so neatly for so long. Well, here at The Ordinary, we think it’s not working, or it’s working so well that it’s impossible for anything of genuine substance to thrive. We want to live in a world where we can make something we love, something we think is good, and we can send it out in the world to share with others, who are making good things that they love, which we’ll share, too, and pass along to our friends. We want to live in a world where everything has value, and nothing has a price. We want to live in a world where we can look how we look, and think what we think, and age how we age, and nobody will try to tell us it’s all bad, and sell us something to fix it–as if the very passing of time, so natural and strange and beautiful, is something you could stop with anything as absurd and insignificant as money. When we communicate, we want to share thoughts and ideas and emotions, we don’t want to buy meds or printer paper or a new phone. And this is our highly-detailed, pragmatic and sensible plan for moving forward into the future.

kale & new potatoes with lemon and sage

kale & new potatoes with lemon and sage

I always think of kale and potatoes, and any combination of kale and potatoes, as being very wintery. Well, guess what? We joined a new CSA (that I’m very excited about!) and we got bundles of kale (very pretty kale, as it happens, I’ve never seen any quite like it), and wonderful handfuls of fresh herbs. And we bought some lovely new potatoes at the store. And we combined them in a light, fresh lemon, kale and white wine preparation. It was delicious! It tasted bright and green, like spring. David said it was the best kale he’s ever eaten. I added some sumac, for tanginess and nigella seeds, for a bit of subtle smokiness, but it would be just fine if you don’t use these.

Here’s Tom Waits with Step Right Up.

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Crispy rosebud herb roasted potatoes

Crispy rosebud herb-roasted potatoes

Crispy rosebud herb-roasted potatoes

I’m feeling a little the worse for wear today, and I’m going to tell you why. It all started when a friend of ours invited us to their chalet in the south of France. Of course we flew over for the weekend, staying up till all hours drinking wine from their vineyards. On the way home we stopped in Barcelona to shoot a few scenes of a friend’s film and drink some robust riojas in the rooftop garden of their streamlined city loft. So, you know, what with the jet lag and the late nights… I’m lying, of course. I’m tired because waitressing is really hard work, and we were so busy this weekend that it made my head spin, and my head continued to spin after I’d gone to bed, and I lay half-awake waiting tables in my head all night long. And I threw my back out during the week, which made waitressing that little bit harder and more painful than usual. And that’s the unglamorous truth.
The other day, as I waited on a large party, I said “Can I get you anything else?” as waitresses do, and one woman replied “Do you have a million dollars?” And I laughed and said, “If I did, I wouldn’t be here!” But I thought about it, as the day progressed, and I’m not sure that’s true. The thing is, as strange as it may sound, I like waiting tables. Maybe I would stay on one or two days a week, even if I had a million dollars. A manager I worked with for a few years used to joke that she wasn’t in it for the money, she just wanted to keep “the common touch.” And there’s something to that… eating is something we all do, we have that in common, and it’s pleasant to see people in this way. I like this chance to talk to complete strangers, and learn a little bit about their lives. I like when they become regulars instead of complete strangers, and they’re glad to see me week after week. I like this way of almost being friends, but in a completely different sphere of life–in a way that none of my actual friends ever sees me. I like to be good at something, and I’m good at waiting tables, which is an incredibly complex and physically demanding job. I’m proud of that. I like the feeling of comradery you get from working with other people, that sort of backstage feeling you get from being part of the process of creating a meal for someone. So maybe I would stay on for a shift now and then, even if I had a million dollars. It might make a nice change from our trips to the rooftops of Barcelona.

These potatoes are so simple I feel almost foolish telling you about them. Except that they were so tasty! And they’re perfect for spring, which is finally making an appearance around here. I boiled some new potatoes for a few minutes, until they were just starting to soften, and then…I cut each one with an apple corer! Just a little bit, not all the way through–about three-quarters of the way down. This made them pretty, with a round central portion and petals on the side, and then I drizzled olive oil and herbs on them, and then I roasted them till they were nicely cripsy. And that was that! I used dry sage, because nothing is growing in my garden yet, but as the season progresses, I’ll try this again with fresh herbs – rosemary, tarragon, basil, thyme. The possibilities are endless!

Here’s Hotter Scorcher by Sweet Confusion, in honor of the warmth of the day, and because I think it’s the sweetest song!
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