If you asked me right now, I’d say Munro and Nabokov are my favorite writers. I would have said Nabokov a few years ago, because I’d only discovered Munro just before she won the prize. That means that I’ve only been reading her work for a year. When I read that first story, I’d never read anything like it, and it still felt familiar. As though I’ve been reading her work all my life. Part of that is that I recognize and identify with one of her most common character types: the poor girl who wants to escape her place in the world. Mostly though, it’s a sort of pure delight to read something so beautifully written. Munro writes short stories, but her stories have the satisfying depth and character development of the very best novels. The Bear Came Over the Mountain is her most respected story, I think, but my favorite is Free Radicals. I could tell you the basic plot, but the plot is secondary, or tertiary maybe, to sparse, beautiful prose, structure, and organization.
These nights, to relax my mind so I can sleep, I’ll re-read a bit of her, or Nabokov’s, work. Those works are familiar and comforting. But then again, Lolita, how I can find something new each and every time I read of you? The characters are more real to me than friends. It makes feel desperate; I want to climb into their work, to tear it apart from within, to somehow be inside of them. Is this how crushes feel? I’ve never been much of a fan girl, but I totally completely like love them. I haven’t got posters, but I have quotes all over my walls.
I forget to look at those quotes these days. Instead, I do the usual: stare at really boring books for twelve hours, with ab-so-lu-tely nothing – like seriously, NOTHING, I’m more burnt than toast – sticking in my head. I go to the farmer’s market once a week, because it keeps me sane. I buy pounds of zucchini. And a few weeks ago, I got to meet Kimberley H. of The Year in Food. I have a copy of her gorgeous book, Vibrant Food. There’s a reason the whole food blogosphere’s been all a buzz about it for the last few weeks. Highly recommend. This recipe from it, and I’ve made and eaten it about 6 times in two weeks. It’s that nice.
Summer Squash “Pasta” with Green Goddess Dressing
Vegetarianized from Vibrant Food
2 pounds summer squash,
1 tsp fine salt, plus more for serving
1/2 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Italian basil, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
2 tablespoons tarragone
1 large garlic clove / 2 small, minced
1 tablespoon capers (salted preferably), rinsed
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Pepper and small basil leaves
Cut the squash into very thin strips (“noodles”) with a mandoline or julienne slicer. Sprinkle the squash with the salt, toss gently, and place in colander over a bowl for 20 minutes, allowing the excess liquid to drain. Carefully squeeze the squash over the colander. Pat with clean kitchen towel to dry.
Combine the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley, chives, tarragon, garlic, and capers in a food process. Blend until smooth, creamy, and pale, speckled green.
Using your hand, gently toss the squash with about ¾ of the dressing. Add the Parmesan and put nuts and toss again. If needed, add remaining dressing. Store remaining dressing in refrigerator, or spoon on the extra if you’re like me.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with small leaves of the basil. The dish is best served immediately.
p.s. Today is Alice Munro’s 83rd birthday.
Also, the underlined areas in my posts (and throughout the rest of this site) are links – if you click on the links above, you can read Munro’s stories online, if you’re so inclined.