We just finished three weeks of high entertaining. There has been a succession of new staff for next year coming to visit us in Tunis, along with some side friends we wanted to spend time with. We knew it was coming, saw it all booked out on the calendar, and then we geared up for day, after day, after day of eating events. And it was wonderful. It about killed us; I won’t deny it, but as a whole, I am happy for all of the faces that have been around our table and happy for the cooking experiences that were involved.
And I didn’t blog about any of it. I didn’t even take pictures. You just have to take my word that any of these events happened because there is almost no evidence. This even surprised me. There were a number of interesting dishes I prepared. Several were new to me and would have been perfect to write about, but I was just simply too busy cooking and entertaining to write about cooking and entertaining and I didn’t feel the need to. It was what we call in education a performance-based assessment.
That made me think about the place of this blog in my life. What purpose does it serve? Why do I want to return to it so often and continue trying to express an experience I’ve had with food? A friend of mine mentioned my blog last week and said, “Cooking grounds you, doesn’t it?” That sounds like a really simple comment, but it resonated with me all week. If cooking grounds me, then that explains why I sometimes can’t get on with other pressing responsibilities, like posting an assignment for my online course, until I’ve written a blog post about something I’ve cooked. That comment actually made me feel less obsessed about blogging, which I didn’t feel was the source of my motivation anyway, and gave me permission to have a need to take time to place some creative thinking in a certain place and then go on with other life activities. That seems more normal to me.
All of this actual entertaining took the place of writing about it so I was satisfied and didn’t miss the blog documentation. But I miss it, now. Passing through a particular season always opens the opportunity to enter a new one. I am still so thrilled to squeeze the life out of this season’s produce. This is a classic expat sort of recipe as I had to gather up the ingredients from more than one country. We have beetroot and are starting to get some nice basil harvests, but I didn’t have fresh mozzarella until I went to Italy three weeks ago. I also don’t know where I can buy macadamia nuts in Tunis, but my teaching partner went on a safari to Kenya over Spring Break and brought me back a package of them so I had the exact amount needed for this recipe. I thought that this was an almost cosmic alignment of ingredients and so this recipe was meant to be.
It feels good to be back in this space with some fresh motivation to tell and show my cooking experiences. Thanks for being my guest.
Adapted from Bennetts Café in Mangawhai, NZ
- ½ lb. beetroot
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup walnuts or macadamia nuts, toasted
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup chopped basil, mint or both
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the beetroot in a roasting dish then cook for 1 hour until tender. Set aside to cool completely. Using your fingertips, rub off the skins. Cut the beetroot into chunks.
Place the beetroot, garlic, oil, nuts, Parmesan, lemon juice, and herbs in a food processor. Process until smooth.
Serve the pesto with blanched green beans and pasta. Serve alongside smoked fish, or serve on bruschetta with mozzarella, arugula, basil, and tomatoes.