Right. So it’s T minus 13 days until the movers come to pack up all of our hopes, dreams, and other non-electronic possessions to be shipped over the Atlantic to London. With any luck, they’ll arrive intact, and not too long after we do. With any luck.
We were sitting down to dinner the other night — one of those slightly unfortunate dinners when we allowed our dorky individual dietary preferences to get in the way of a single, unifying homecoming of a meal. One of us turned to the others. It hardly matters who, because we’ve all been feeling the same thing. “But, we’re pretty happy here,” the one said. “Why are we doing this, again?”
Did it have something to do with adventure, or growth, or horizons, maybe? Or coming back with cool accents as souvenirs for the kids? Or was it tea and scones we were going for? We couldn’t remember, for a minute.
But then we realized. The point of this whole gig is that we have no idea, yet, why we’re going. If we already knew the outcome, the going would be a giant waste of time. A supersized waste, really. Which is so totally American that they probably wouldn’t even approve our Visas. And we would deserve it.
So we’ll go, and I’ll keep writing. And if I’m lucky, you’ll keep reading. And maybe someday, together, we’ll figure out why we went.
That will all be super brave and awesome. But for now, the mere thought of it sends me running straight home — really home — to the kind of food that reminds me who we are, and why we’re here, before it all begins. This is it.
- 1 cup (uncooked) long-grain brown basmati rice
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium red onion, diced small
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 15 oil-cured black olives, pitted and minced
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (yummy, but optional)
- 6 large fresh basil leaves, minced
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (optional)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Bring two cups of water to a boil in a small pot. Add the rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cover, and cook at a gentle simmer for 40 minutes or until water is absorbed. Cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle. On a large rimmed baking sheet, place the diced eggplant, onion, and garlic. Sprinkle with two Tablespoons of the olive oil, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender.
- Pour the rice, roasted eggplant mixture, olives, feta (if using), basil, and chickpeas (if using) into a large bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss gently to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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