I’m having trouble with this blog. I’m having trouble thinking about food and writing about food when there are hundreds of children who have been kidnapped at America’s southern border. I’m having trouble believing in the inevitability of American democracy when Putin’s motto for taking over the world seems to be “America First.” I’m having trouble.
Aside from writing ever-larger checks to the Good Guys and making irate phone calls to my idiot senator and supporting voter registration efforts, what can I do? I’m open to suggestions. I take my job of being An-Old-Person-Who-Wants-to-Be-a-Light-in-the-World very seriously. In the meantime, here’s the only thing that matters to me: loving and being loved by the people I care about. And so this post.
Joanna, my older daughter, left this week to live in the Netherlands for the next two years. A very prestigious post-doc fellowship, apparently — but so far away from her mother! How did we spend our last evening together? Joanna decided that what she wanted to do was to make dinner for the two of us: grilled butterfish and grilled broccoli. And then she wanted to watch the Phillies game together (which they lost in a 13-inning heartbreaker. Don’t even get me started about Odubel Herrera).
So that’s it. To love and be loved by people we care about — our tribe. And now the trick is, as I see it, is to figure out how to encourage people to expand what they think of as their tribe. Help wanted.
Here’s what Joanna made for me —
- 1 head of broccoli
- 1 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbl grated pecorino romano cheese (optional; see note)
- Boil a big pot of water.
- While the water is heating up, cut off just the bottom of the broccoli stalk.
- Then, using a vegetable peeler, peel the outer layer of the stalk.
- Cut the broccoli longitudinally into as many pieces as you like.
- When the water comes to a boil, drop the broccoli in and cook for 3 minutes.
- Drain the broccoli, and then run cold water over it (or place the cooked broccoli in a bowl of ice water — but that’s too much trouble for me).
- Let the broccoli dry for a little bit.
- While it’s drying, prepare your grill for indirect and direct heat by leaving off one of the burners and turning the rest on medium heat. If you are using a charcoal grill pile up the coals to one side.
To grill the broccoli—
- Brush each broccoli stalk with olive oil, then place the broccoli on the "off" side of the grill (indirect heat) and close the lid.
- Grill for 15 minutes or until you think it’s done. While it's grilling, get the fish ready.
- Butterfish or some other firm fish
- 1 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp mayonnaise (optional, but it adds a nice touch)
- Half a lemon
- Mix the oil, mustard, and mayonnaise. Brush each side of the fish with the mixture. Grill on medium heat (see note) for 5 minutes on each side; then check to see if the fish is done.
- Place the fish on a plate and squeeze lemon juice over the top (see note).
- To prevent fish from sticking to the grill, make sure that the grill is clean, hot, and oiled.
- You may choose to grill the lemon half for a few minutes – it looks impressive, and the juice absolutely pours out.
- The cheese is optional, but it adds such a great zing, and you don’t need much of it.
So there you have it. Joanna’s Last Supper. I know, I know, I’m being melodramatic here, but I can’t help it. The point is, it was such an ordinary evening and also so perfect—just what I needed, and I hope what she needed, too. Surround yourself with love, and repair the world. What else is there?