Resurrection Selection: A Spirit-Lifting Salad

I have been spending my days behind my computer applying for jobs. It’s not easy. Yes, I recently wrote, “My future is completely up in the air, but so far it feels good.” And I meant it. But now, quite honestly, it doesn’t feel as good. I have days when I feel like I’ve made solid progress chipping away at the Bay Area food scene and making promising connections. I also have days when I want to throw my computer out the window because I feel like I’m sending my resume into a very dark and ominous abyss where it has no chance of being noticed, let alone read. On those days, instead of actually throwing my computer out the window, I end up opening the fridge and stuffing myself with something I should just throw away, like three-day old couscous. Then I shuffle through my roommate’s record collection and find woeful music to play. “Hello darkness my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again…”

Last Wednesday was one of those three-day old couscous days. After applying for jobs and emailing contacts all day, I felt utterly defeated. I fled the confines of my temporary East Bay bungalow and wandered through the Mountain View Cemetery. Sounds completely dark and morbid of me, but I really like it in there amongst the graves and flowers. It’s so peaceful. And from the top of the hill on the other side of the Bay, San Francisco sits shimmering in the distance, so full of hope. Why does everything appear promising from far away?

wandering amongst the tombstones

I made a fennel and green apple salad after I returned from my walk amongst the dead. It was the perfect contrast to my day – crispy and crunchy and so alive. The tartness of the apple combined with the licorice snap of the fennel, tossed with lemon juice, salt, pepper and freshly shaved Parmesan. My taste buds rejoiced. I ate it with a  very complementary, wortheverypenny bargain bottle of Vinho Verde Adamado. A salad that resurrects my palate and lifts my spirits? Hallelujah!

fennel and apple salad

Fennel and Green Apple Salad

Serves two as a first course

1 medium fennel bulb

1 medium tart, green apple (Buy local! You can find early-season apples at the farmers market.)

Good-quality olive oil

1 lemon

A hunk of Parmesan

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

  • Cut the fennel bulb in half from root to stalk, sliced as thin as possible and place in a medium bowl.
  • Cut the apple into thin slices and add to bowl.
  • Add the juice of one lemon, a light drizzle of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, then toss it all together with your hands.
  • Shave your hunk of Parmesan with a vegetable peeler and set aside.
  • Place a small handful of salad onto two plates. Sprinkle with Parmesan shavings. Layer more salad, then more cheese, until plates are full. Serve immediately.
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