Normally, I don't care for salad. I don't like lettuce, really. It's endless and watery and really kind of tasteless.
But then, this weekend, one of my students brought me a gift. With a giant grin on her face, she hefted a black plastic bag up the steps of my veranda and dropped it into my arms.
"Great!" I said. "Thanks!" Then, trailing off, I examined the contents of the bag. "Thaaaanks," I repeated, more slowly this time.
It was no less than five pounds of lettuce.
I'll admit that my first reaction was to give it all away. I heaped greens upon my neighbors, offering multiple bunches to multiple families, days and days in a row. But there's only so much lettuce that you can give to your neighbors before they reach a point of saturation. I gave away a good four pounds before I realized that I had no choice but to eat the rest myself.
Unfortunately, this meant... salad.
Making a salad in Mozambique is a real bother. Everything needs to be rinsed and bleached and then rinsed again. Considering the fact that I don't even like salad, that seems like a lot of work for a big pile of leaves.
The good news is, though, that everything is organic. All vegetables are organic and fresh and grown locally, by default. So a Mozambican salad is healthy, even if it's slightly bleachy and a real pain to make.
|Fresh, local, and cheap|
But even the freshest, juiciest salad is kind of bland without dressing. And I had no way of procuring dressing whilst at site in Mozambique.
I had no choice but to sit and think.
Until that point, it had never occured to me that I could make my own salad dressing. To me, salad dressing was one of those things that only came pre-packaged. Like Twinkies. Or cereal. Certain, things, I thought, simply couldn't be made by the average, normal person.
Apparently, I was wrong.
A quick scan of the Internet revealed thousands of recipes, from the complicated "Basil-Walnut-Lemon Juice Puree" to the rather more reasonable "Simple Vinaigrette."
After a few minutes in the kitchen and some vague experimentation, I am proud to admit that I produced my own first-ever homemade salad dressing. And it was pretty good.
|A simple salad dressing using only five ingredients|
Though this recipe could be added to or detracted from at whim, the basics of this dressing are as follows:
Simple Salad Dressing
1 part white vinegar
2 parts oil
A pinch of pepper
A pinch of salt
A fat squeeze from a honey bear, smuggled from the States
Combine ingredients in an old jar and shake. Ta-da! A simple salad dressing.
|The final product|
Really, it's quite good.
We've since eaten through the pound of lettuce, and gone to buy another. I wouldn't say that I love salad, but I've become more open-minded. The dressing, I'll admit, covers up the taste of bleach.