collard fettucine with two sauces
The Hagakure is a practical and spiritual guide to warfare written by a samurai in the beginning of the 18th century. The word “hagakure” literally means “hidden by leaves,” or “hidden leaves,” and I believe this is because the writings, though seemingly about a warrior code, are filled with hidden meanings that shift and grow as you read them, as something viewed through shifting leaves and shadows. I know about the Hagakure because extracts from it are beautifully read in Jim Jarmusch’s beautiful Ghost Dog.
One of my favorites is this advice for understanding a rain storm, “There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. By doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to all things.” Every once in a while my boys will impart some wisdom they’ve gleaned from their travels, and it feels as though they should end it, “This understanding extends to all things.” Last night before bed and this morning on our towpath walk, I peppered them with questions, and I’ve compiled a short list of their advices.
The Way of My Boys
When walking through a forest, always think that a tick is biting you. In this way you will know when you have been bitten by a tick. This understanding applies to all things.
If a bee stings you but you don’t know it, it will not hurt. This understanding extends to all things.
When swimming in a pool, if you want to touch the bottom, go slowly so that you don’t hit your head. When swimming in murky water with a bed of sharp stones, go slowly so that you don’t scrape your knees. This understanding extends to all things.
If you want to catch a firefly, don’t pinch it, hold your hand out and let it land, so that you don’t kill it. This is true of all things.
If you miss a friend, play with things that you learned about with him. This understanding extends to all things.
If you’re waiting on line and your legs get tired, think about something else and the pain will go away. This applies to all things.
If you want something very badly but can’t have it, imagine that you have it, and that will be almost as good. This applies to all things.
When eating a plum, take a big bite, pull out the pit at once, and you can have fun eating the rest. This understanding extends to all things.
I keep picking armfuls of basil each week, and I wanted to think of something different to add to pesto, so I asked Malcolm. He suggested smoked paprika, and then we decided to add smoked gouda as well, and to roast the garlic and toast the pine nuts. It turned out very good. It’s quite a subtle flavor, but nice. And I’ve been picking lots of tomatoes, too. I had some chunky sauce left over from the day before, and I decided to mix it with some cream of coconut and spices, and then add some fresh cherry tomatoes at the end.
Bright and spicy and a little sweet. And, finally, I’ve been thinking a while about cooking collards in long ribbons, and eating them as a person might eat pasta, with a sauce (or two!) on top. I thought it turned out very very tasty. Satisfying, like pasta, but with more flavor and texture. The boys just ate soba noodles, though, which is a perfectly acceptable substitute.
Here’s Flying Birds, from RZA’s remarkable soundtrack to Ghost Dog.