Salad That Sings

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a salad that sings in the sky.If salads could sing, mine would sound like a Mozart sonata. Infused with joy, my salads are lifesavers lifting me from a sea of sadness. These cheerful creations get me focused on something other than my loss. They help anchor me to a community of friends.

It started out years ago when I was part of a small foodie group that made the rounds of regional restaurants and got together Saturday nights to cook what we’d toast as “the best food in Ithaca tonight.” The others in the group were much more accomplished cooks than I. So each week my contribution was the salad. Not too much stress; if I botched the salad, there was always an appetizer, a main course, the cheese course, and two desserts. We wouldn’t go hungry. Salads became my specialty.
“What can I bring?” I ask now when invited to dinner. Almost always I hear, “Can you make a salad?” And most of the time, based on the individuals, the season, and the main dish or theme of the dinner, I get an immediate idea for the conglomeration I will build.

Making salad for friends is almost a ritual: spreading a blanket of greens, chopping on the ancient cutting board, mixing in pomegranates, pistachios, sugar snap peas, or florets of Romanesco broccoli. Into the bright concoction I throw cheeses, nuts, legumes, seafood, fruit, … sometimes even edible flowers. I top each bowl with something beautiful, like splashes of yellow bell peppers, confetti of red cabbage, a snowfall of scallion, roasted cubes of sweet potato.

My salads are celebrations of the sweet and savory, colors and crunch, local ingredients and exotic delicacies. And of the world that is ever turning, to which I still belong despite my grief. When you dive into my gift, the bowl that brims over in greens and gratitude, maybe you can tell: each toss is a song of love for those who have seen me through hard times.

 

How do you take care of the ones who take care of you? What do you put into your favorite salads?

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Salad That Sings

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Let the salad sing. But mine aren’t ready for the stage until the lettuce leaves are from the garden. Then the best of all with late summer tender lettuces, my own cukes, tomatoes, and red peppers. Will it happen? Praying although there was a dusting of snow last night.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Any salad that contains greens you have grown yourself is infinitely better than store-bought or even farmers’ market-bought ingredients. How I wish I could garden-up my own veggies for the salads. That would really get salad singing. Your salads and soups are loaded with song and story and love, Elaine. It’s April. It can’t be much longer. For you especially I’m wishing the winter would end. Cheers!

      Reply
  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    I love the way you use making salads as a connection to the living world–which, as you say, you are still a part of in spite of your grief. For me, my daughter and grandkids coming over help remind me that I’m still part of the living since Adrian died. I always have a healthy snack ready for my grandkids, and make sure that when my daughter has dinner with me, it’s a special one.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Yes, that food connection is such a strong one, Lynne. And grandchildren – you are so lucky. And I love seeing that beautiful name – Adrian. If I could have another son now I think I’d have to name him Adrian. Cheers for checking in.

      Reply
  3. SusanB

    Robin, wow, that was a beautiful, astute salad of words. For family and friends I cook comfort food such as roast , potatoes, gravy, cauliflower or broccoli or brussel sprouts. I find salads to fussy and for the same reason I almost never make cookies because after mixing the dough I’m already over it and can’t be bothered forming the cookies. If there is someone requesting cookies I enlist them to fill the baking sheets. But, I do make a mean loaf – banana, pumpkin, lemon…

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thanks, Susan. Your “mean loaf” sounds great. Sounds like comfort food to me. If I had to cook or bake something it would most likely get burned. Stopping after the fuss of chopping and tossing works best for me. And there’s something therapeutic to be found in tearing and cutting up the ingredients. But if I could make banana loaf, well … Cheers!

      Reply
  4. Annette Corth

    Looks beautiful and surely must taste the same. How come you never made one for me?

    Reply

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