Roasted cauliflower, potatoes and butterbeans in spicy red pepper – olive sauce

Roasted potatoes, cauliflower and butterbeans with spicy red pepper sauce

Roasted potatoes, cauliflower and butterbeans with spicy red pepper sauce

When a child tells a joke (my child, at any rate) he always explains it. He always adds a little, “do you see what I did there?” (Except when they tell knock knock jokes, of course – not because they need no explanation, but because there is no explanation. They make no sense, and that’s the point of them.) As they get a little older they might just send it out there into the world, and see how it plays. They start to understand the universal language of jokes, and they recognize that others understand it as well. And if it plays well, they’ll repeat it, over and over and over again. There’s a regular at the bar where I work. He’s a friendly, loquacious guy, and everybody’s always happy to see him, as befits his status as regular. He tells jokes that aren’t always appropriate, and he lets us know they’re not appropriate by saying, “If you know what I mean.” One day, the bartender said, “Everybody always knows what you mean!” She said it in a jolly, joking way, but he seemed a little chastened. He was uncharacteristically silent for a few minutes. When I think about it, which I frequently do, it’s so odd that we can communicate at all. Words are so frustratingly, beautifully inadequate. Either they seem to have no meaning at all, or they have so many meanings you don’t know which to choose. We could lose ourselves in the space between what we mean to say or what we want to say, and what is actually said. We watched Tokyo Story by Ozu yesterday. (Beautiful!) His films are about regular, contemporary people facing problems that we all face, and one of these is, simply, talking to one another, conveying meaning. The characters are speaking Japanese, of course, which is a language I don’t understand, but they’re so clearly sharing the difficulty of sharing, with their gestures and expressions. They use small sounds, single syllables or grunts, that seem to carry more meaning, and be better understood, than whole streams of words. I love this! Each person fills the syllable with their own inflections, the whole force of their personality. Ozu will show one side of a phone call that consists of nothing but these short grunts, and you know what the person on the other end is saying. I read a little bit about these sounds, and they each have their own written character, which is a beautiful thing. I suppose we have something similar in English, but our small sounds, our ums and ers and uh-huhs seem to create little spaces of non-meaning, little expressions of frustration with meaning. Or maybe it’s just easier to see meaning when you’re less entangled in the words, when you’re outside, looking in.

It’s funny how recipes can become construed and misconstrued, made up, as they are, of words. The symbols I take as universal are very confusing to some people. And measurements are so changing and mysterious, especially when you’re talking about the size of a vegetable! In recipes such as this one, it’s okay that the measurements are vague. You can adjust the amounts to your taste. We have roasted potatoes, cauliflower and roasted butter beans (yummy!) And we have a sauce to toss them in, and you can roast just as much of each as you like! You can mix everything together, and fry it in a skillet till the sauce is fairly dry and coating each piece, and that’s tasty. Or you can leave the elements separate, and let people take what they like, which is what we did, because not everyone in the family is as enthusiastic about cauliflower. We ate this with simple herbed farro, and some sauteed kale and broccoli rabe tossed with lemon and butter.

Here’s the Tokyo Story Theme, by Saito Kojun

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