Friday, January 31, 2014

Rolling with it

We all know about "balance": the basic concept of yin and yang. Work and play. Pride and humility. Strength and softness. A balanced diet. Balancing on ones hands, or feet for that matter. When we have balance we are healthy and steady, sure, capable, but open to learning. And we are not stressed. So basically, I am completely out of balance.....

Which is to say I am completely stressed. Ironically, I find balance to this by being relatively unproductive towards relieving that stress--in other words, I am uber relaxed about being stressed. Full circle: I am completely balanced.

Look. I could go on writing in this very confusing fashion, or I could be straight up with you: I am holding steady at completely uprooting myself from the life I have created here, seek out a new and not-entirely random adventure in a country that I do not speak the language but long for the food and sun, and settling here for time enough to start my own business and agree to a relationship on more than one level. Ok, so that was still relatively vague. Balance.

Let me try again. With salad rolls.

Salad rolls are a spring/summer meal, right? Served cold, with crisp, watery vegetables like cucumber and soft lettuces, they are picnic portable and fun to dip as most summery things are: bagna cauda (fancy Italian veggies and dip), chips and salsa, toes and more in the lake...but not very winter friendly. In the winter we crave digging in not dipping in. Hearty, rich, starchy, and--most importantly--hot meals. Hot rice noodles in hot laksa. Not cold rice noodles wrapped in cold rice paper. That is an imbalance. But it is about all I want to eat these days.

Winter weather, summer meal. There is the balance. That, and what you put in them. While currently obsessed with these Vietnamese finger foods (cant pronounce them in Vietnamese, but long for them as much as I do the sun on my skin...), I have experimented with all sorts of wintery fixings: pickled pumpkin (sneaky hint of kaffir lime, blows your mind every time), lemongrass roasted beets, sweet potato shaved and tossed in sesame oil and warm spices, heartier greens like lacinato kale, even toasted sprouted buckwheat groats. Carmelizing peanuts in a bit of honey and dried thai chilis with shallot and rice vinegar is money: sweet salty fatty nutty bits of crunchy business bite by bite. And toasting dressed Yuba skins until they are crispy is pretty much the ultimate contrast to soft rice paper and cabbage. I made my own Yuba today. That's another story. Its a good one. Its about patience. But this is (still) a story about balance.

And here is the conclusion of this seemingly random tale. My ma has always said that I am black or white--no grey. High or low. Happy or sad. I like to think that I have found my grey area by trusting that my black will lead to a white. By rooting down to rise up. By rolling with it in any direction as much as you focus on a path. By rolling up some root vegetables in an out of season dinner.

Do you see the connection? Between salad rolls and my life? Maybe it would have helped to have pictures. Sorry about that. But you see, the more random and silly this story seems, the more perfectly it balances my calculated, seriously stressed state. I feel better already.