Eight years ago, today, the Whole Foods Market in Boulder, Colorado temporarily shut down. I was a college freshman at the time, and that Kerry-dude had just lost a nail-biter of an election to that Bush-dude.
On any normal day, the town of Boulder could be called quaintly kooky. On the day after a disappointing election, however, Boulder can only be described as completely insane.*
When Kerry fell to Bush, Boulder’s world ended. My professors threw chairs. Fires were started in trashcans. Students contemplated dropping out of school and taking safe haven in Canada. Traffic was gridlocked. Some guy started slaughtering kittens down on the Pearl Street Mall – nobody gave him a second thought. Pande-freaking-monium. The Whole Foods Market on 28th street temporarily shut down.
And then, by Thursday, people began remembering that their lives weren’t (quite) over. They wiped their tears, arrested the kitten guy, put out the fires, and went back to whatever-the-hell they were doing on Monday, before the apocalypse had showed its form. Quaint kookiness returned. I went grocery shopping.
So today, as pockets of the country surely believe the world is ending – believe that moving to Estonia (or Panama, or wherever) will make things better – don’t worry. Instead, make some bacon. And then add that bacon to a Brussels sprout salad tossed with champagne vinaigrette, crushed Marcona almonds, dried cherries, and shaved Manchego cheese. Hell, add extra bacon, just because.
Fires in trashcans? Whole Foods closed for the day? No Brussels sprouts to be found? No worries. Make something up. Use whatever vinegar you have sitting around. Kale, romaine, spinach – whatever. Cherries, cranberries, almonds, cashews – go for it. It’ll turn out just fine. These things usually do.
* For what it’s worth, I didn’t vote for either that Bush-dude or that Kerry-dude eight years ago. I voted for a write-in candidate from Vermont whose only promise was to abolish the penny. Think that’s silly? Look under the front seat of your car and tell me that guy wouldn’t have had a profound impact on your life.
Brussels Sprout Salad
Serves 4 as a starter, or 2 as a main
Inspired by Chelsea’s Kitchen
- 15-20 Brussels sprouts, trimmed of their stems, and halved
- ~1/4 pound of slab bacon (or 3-4 slices), cubed
- 1 handful dried cherries, roughly chopped
- 1 handful Marcona almonds, roughly chopped (or blanched almonds, if you can’t find Marcona)
- a hunk of some good Manchego cheese
- 1 splash Champagne vinegar
- 1 small dollop of honey
- a couple glugs of olive oil
- salt & pepper
- First, add the bacon to a small saute pan over medium heat. Cook until just crispy, ~6-8 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on a paper towel.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil over high heat. In addition, prepare an ice bath: add ice and water to a large bowl, and place near the stove.
- Blanch the Brussels sprout halves in the boiling water until just tender ~1-2 minutes. They should turn a bright green color when done. Remove the Brussels sprouts from the boiling water and add directly to the ice bath, to stop the cooking process. Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes.
- Drain the Brussels sprouts, and break them down with your fingers, separating their leaves. (Cutting out the core makes this process a bit easier.)
- Dry the finished leaves completely, using one of those schmancy salad-spinners or a clean dish towel.
- In a salad bowl, prepare the vinaigrette: add a pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, small dollop of honey, and splash of Champagne vinegar. Whisk the ingredients together, slowly adding a couple glugs of olive oil to form the vinaigrette.
- Add the Brussels sprout leaves, almonds, bacon, and cherries to the bowl and toss. Finish with a few shavings of the Manchego.