This past weekend, my house became a traveler's hostel. Various couches and spare rooms were occupied by singers and guitars and those returning from voyages to the Middle East. Along with shared stories, shared mornings making up songs on the front porch couch, and shared dollar bags of ripe nectarines and dried bananas, we shared kitchen space. Oh, boy, if I thought it was difficult to maneuver around the kitchen and fridge space with the usual suspects, I now know I should appreciate what I've got - and be thankful there aren't eight people around all the time.
I find it amazing how intimate kitchen space is. I don't think twice when there is a new character on the couch in the morning, I'm in my twenties - these things happen. But when there is something unidentified in the fridge, or when four people attempt to make four different meals in our little kitchen, I can get knocked a bit off kilter - and then I just smile and appreciate the opportunity to meet new people (and bake for them, too). Now, however, any and all reservations about the "vagabonds" have completely disappeared, as I came downstairs this morning to a clean kitchen floor. And clean counters. And a cupboard full of clean dishes.
Best. House guests. Ever.
Another great thing about house guests is observing what people choose to fill the fridge with when they are visiting for a few days. All of a sudden, there were fancy dried figs, thick yogurt, mint, cucumbers, and a general Near-East flair to one section of the fridge, and another morning brought (what looked to be sausages) in a candied ginger bag and a hearty amount of couscous and vegetables. What is local food to a person on the road? Should we try to recreate our familiar flavors and spread them to new taste buds, or should we fully immerse ourselves in an area's specialties and allow ourselves to experience new tastes - perhaps the answer is a bit of both. I'm going to be a traveler myself this week, I'm visiting family on the East Coast, and am looking forward to eating locally in a new region. I know it's still America, and still the height of summer, but I'm sure I'll be able to find something exciting. What Farmers' Market gems are unique to the Northeast? I can't wait to find out, but as for now, I've got to use up whats in the fridge before I leave.
The house guests have gone, though they've left behind a few choice ingredients, and I'm back to monopolizing counter space and kitchen time. Summer is truly here: the local watermelons are at their peak. I thought I'd use some of the fresh mint, cucumber, and feta that found their way into my fridge and mix them- like traveling guests mingling with the usual locals- with a champion watermelon. It's just too bad the visiting food can't clean up after itself.
Eat well, I'll send dispatches from the road.
Minted Watermelon and Feta Salad
serves one. with a few bites for curious guests.
1 cup watermelon cubes
1 ounce brined feta, crumbled
1 small Persian cucumber, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh spearmint leaves, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
pinch of sea salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients on a medium plate. Take a lunch-break vacation.