Guest Post By The Pious Hippie: ‘Mint is the New Basil’
My friend, lets call her Madame M, started a blog called the Pious Hippie a few months back.
Madame M and I have been friends for 9 years now. We met in college and instantly connected. Madame M has always been the intelligent types- class topper in school, and the streak followed her to college.
If ever I had a sister, I (and am sure I can vouch the same for my mom) would want her to be exactly like Madame M. I mean the girl is seriously talented. Intelligence aside, she is witty, writes amazingly well, is beautiful, cooks well, is charming, dresses great and well I could go on and on about her, but the bottom line is she is one of the best persons in my life and thanks to her I am a better person today.
In college, Madame M was the chef. My friend Ruchi and I would just lie on her bed, entering the kitchen only when it was time for us to eat.
Yup. My friends were amused when I started a food blog.
Madame M was the cook and I bet she can still beat my a** off when it comes to cooking. I guess she gets it from her mom.
Today, Madame M has been kind enough to guest post for me.
Do check her blog. Its quite interesting, with a lot of wit and humor thrown in. She tries to illustrate all her thoughts with drawings. You’ll get an idea of what I mean from this blog post.
Handing over to Madame M.
“MINT IS THE NEW BASIL”
Daniel Pink, in his book, A Whole New Mind, said that human beings are now searching for meaning in their day to day lives. Work just for work’s sake isn’t going to cut it any longer.
We want to do something that has meaning; that makes a difference in the world. We are looking for ‘our calling’.
I was deeply impressed by the book. And this particular chapter- on Meaning- made me think about the meaning of my life. What was my calling?
We are born for meaning not pleasure, unless it is pleasure that is steeped in meaning.
– Jacob Needleman
When you put it that way my calling is to eat pasta.
That really is a no brainer.
Pasta is nothing but pleasure steeped in meaning.
How could it be anything else?
A bite of pasta (any shape, any size, any sauce) brings with it more meaning to my life than I’m ever going to need.
It gives me a reason to live.
It reminds me of the joys that exist on our precious earth and my unshakable responsibility to enjoy them. For, without this pleasure, my existence will be but incomplete.
And the more I think about this, the more sense it makes.
I read here, that:
When God wants to do something wonderful, it begins with a difficulty.
And if he wants to do something extremely wonderful, it begins with an impossibility.
And pasta, if anything, is that ‘something extremely wonderful’.
At least for me.
You still need to go find your own true calling.
Unless you want to share in my calling.
I won’t blame you if you do.
And you know how I can say that with such unflinching confidence? That pasta eating is my ‘something extremely wonderful’?
Because, God has mercilessly plunked me in to, probably, the only place in the world where they think ‘pasta’ is a kind of nut.
They are confusing it with ‘pista’, the local version of the word pistachio.
They don’t know what pasta is.
And so my quest for pasta begins with an impossibility.
Therefore, pasta-eating is my ‘something extremely wonderful’.
For the first time in my life. I begin to fully understand what Ethan Hunt feels like in the Mission Impossible movies.
Commander Swanbeck: Good morning Ms. Pious Hippie. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves the recovery of a locally unknown item, designated ‘pasta’. You may select any two other ingredients, but it is essential that the third member of your recipe be white sauce. She is delicious, and a highly suitable accompaniment to the dish. (…) As always should any ingredient of the recipe be missing, the Secretary will disavow all knowledge of your recipe. And you will be left pasta-less.
This message will self-destruct in five seconds.
(Cue heavy Mission Impossible rock music)
Okay so I cheated in the first part of the mission.
I asked an aunt of mine to get me a few packs of pasta from where it was readily available.
I’m resourceful that way.
My partners in crime:
Mint (filling in for it’s cousin basil- out on holiday)
Roasted pine nuts
Slice tomatoes into quarter inch slices.
Toss them with olive oil, salt, crushed pepper and 2 grated cloves of garlic.
Spread them onto a baking tray, and bake/grill.
Char the suckers.
Note: If you forget about the tomatoes in the oven because you’re watching Glee, it’s okay.Just eat the slices that have blackened too much. They taste great and no one will ever know.
But this will only work if you’re watching Glee.
Any other show and you’re in serious trouble.
Phase 1 of mission officially complete.
Agent Pious Hippie is an adherent of the standard roux and milk procedure.
Melt butter. Dump in the flour. Stir, stir, stir with a wooden spoon. Make sure the flour doesn’t brown. After about the couple of minutes, when the flour doesn’t smell flour-y, add cold milk.
Don’t thank me for the lucidity and precision of my instructions. It’s my moral obligation.
Again, stir, stir, stir.
Remember: Lumps are evil.
The sauce will thicken and coat your wooden spoon like gooey heaven.
Phase 2 of the mission has been accomplished.
Add salt and black pepper for fun, and sprinkle some olive oil on top of the sauce- so that the annoying, thin, floury coating doesn’t form and proceed to phase 3.
We’re almost there.
Take your food processor jar.
Go down on your knees and look towards the heavens and thank God for his foresight and kindness in inventing the food processor. Tell Him how much you love him for it.
Wipe off your tears and move on.
Put in the mint, a few leaves of basil if you have some.
I’m not sure why, but I know it makes a difference. A delicate, ingenious difference.
But if you don’t have any basil, like me, the difference is so subtle then you can do without it.
Add the garlic, the roasted pine nuts and olive oil.
Some salt and crushed black pepper.
And process until a thick sauce forms.
I would have said ‘until the mixture is emulsified’, but I don’t know what emulsified means.
Now comes the most difficult part of the mission.
Ignore this advice at your own peril.
When you glance at the dark green mixture in the jar, you’re going to get an urge.
An itch you’ll feel the need to scratch.
An urge to scoop up some of that green goop and smear it over your face and scream like the incredible hulk in the mirror.
It won’t be easy but RESIST.
You will regret it.
The final phase:
Boil pasta. Drain and reserve a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water.
Add pesto to the white sauce and stir.
Put in enough of pesto to make the sauce a nice pastel green.
With little minty specks.
If Red wasn’t the color of love, I’m pretty sure this pastel green would be.
Now add the pasta and the water.
Stir, stir, stir and plate up.
And top with the charred tomatoes.
While you’re eating this, I might warn you that NOT closing your eyes when you are having the first few bites of the pastel greeny, minty, tangy- tomatoey heaven is a CRIME, punishable by LAW.
Taste such as this deserves utmost reverence and allowing yourself to be distracted from it by any of the other senses, can be deemed as ingratitude of the highest order and you will have your conscience to answer to.
Also, if you’re like me and you never follow the recipe exactly and always end up with more pesto and roasted tomatoes than needed by “mistake”, then congratulations. It’s the most delicious mistake you’ll ever make, and it’s shaped like a grilled sandwich.
Just smear some pesto on to slices of bread. Arrange the roasted slices of tomatoes on one slice and grate some cheese on the other.
Grill until crisp and enjoy your mistake the next morning.
Afternoon. Evening. Night. Midnight.
And if no one’s watching, then, for your 3am snack.
For more of the Pious Hippie do check Madame M’s Blog.