"It sure seems dark," the historian said as we gave our tickets to the ticket guy and went down the hall, then down another hall, to get to our theater.
"That's because we're sinking into darkness," I said. Yep, that's the kind of thing I say nowadays, super-poet-charged by all the pre-solsticean gloom. I think I have said something along these lines maybe four or five times in the last week. Sometimes, I give it a more hopeful spin: "Just a little less than a month, and then it will start getting lighter day by day," for instance, is something I've said recently.
Either way, sometimes you have to pick yourself up and manufacture a little metaphorical light, or you might slip on an icy little north-lying patch of gloom and not get up.
It doesn't help when, while you're walking, you listen to music that makes you search your soul and reckon with your failings.
It's also possible that the gloom can make almost any music have that effect.
During these dark times, you should make and eat this salad. It is a mashup of two salad recipes I consulted recently. This salad will cheer you up, at least while you're eating it.
Salad for the Dead of Winter
Take a bunch (and by "a bunch" I mean "fistfuls or a bag or a lot," not necessarily something sold as "a bunch," although if that amount is equivalent to my definitions, then by all means) of arugula
--Okay, let's pause here: it goes without saying that you will wash everything, right? And that after the washing, you will make sure that it is dry? Get a salad spinner if you don't have one. Entirely worthwhile gadget, in my opinion.
…a bunch of arugula, and put it in your salad bowl.
Cut the core end out of one head of radicchio; slice it into ribbons, and you don't need to be too fancy about it. Put that in the bowl, too.
Take off the outer, less attractive layer of the fennel (one bulb) and cut off the root end.
Cut off the long stalks and the feathery fronds. (Save them for stock, maybe?) Slice the fennel into thinnish slices
Put in some thin-thin-thinly sliced red onion, to your taste. (NOTE: when I made this salad, the historian put that red onion decidedly to the edge of his plate. Red onion is not for everyone, is the takeaway here.)
Thinly slice a handful of red radishes. (These can be optional, in my opinion.)
Please take a moment to notice how pretty your salad is at this point: green, red and white. Lovely!
Now is the time to pick your wintry fruit:
OR Red grapefruit, sectioned, pith, seeds and membrane removed
OR Cara cara oranges
OR blood oranges
I made this salad once with pomegranate seeds and once with red grapefruit. I would have chosen either of the orange varieties, but the supermarket at which I was shopping was fresh out of fancy oranges. I pouted about that, but ultimately the red grapefruit was tart and refreshing and I liked the salad very well with it, so much so that when it came time to make the salad a third time, for Thanksgiving, I repeated the grapefruit and liked it again.
NOTE: not everyone will eat a salad with grapefruit in it. Too bad for them. More leftover salad for you.
I used two grapefruits for a lot of greens; one whole pomegranate seemed about right.
Finally, make your vinaigrette: 1 glug or 2 glugs of olive oil; a short glug of either sherry vinegar or champagne vinegar; a finely minced clove of garlic; salt and pepper. Whisk that until it emulsifies, then pour it right before serving over the salad. Toss it with your (clean) hands or tongs or whatever your preferred salad-tossing implement is.
You can add some grated Pecorino or Parmesan to this, but it's not necessary, not really. The salad tastes clean and astringent without the cheese. It wakes you up, which is a good thing when the world outside is dark, so dark it seems like it might never get light again.
But it will. It's less than a month before the days will start getting lighter, bit by bit.