Julie’s nose's aloft over the soup that's royal red and bubbling, inhaling wafts of dill and coriander that curlicue up. Sunlight floods the kitchen, so there's a rainbow of steam, and it’s as if the spectrum of vegetables cut and chopped by Daniel created it.
I’d made a quick vegetable stock earlier in the morning of onions, garlic, beets, carrots, cilantro and dill stems, endive, celery and coriander seeds. It simmered for an hour and was allowed to infuse for another three.
Daniel and Julie add some diced beets, potatoes, onions, an apple, and carrots to the strained stock and cook everything until fork tender. Then with Daniel’s immersion blender they puree it until velvet,
We add pickle juice left over from kosher dill brining last summer, I had a half-gallon in the back of the fridge and kept thinking that its day would come. It is the perfect sour spark to the sweet and lively vegetables. When the first spoonful hits Julie’s tongue, she's in revelry.
We serve the borsht as the first course, after the zakuski, at our Russian literary feast. In little bowls, with our salmon kulebiaka on the side. We don't even pass the sour cream.
She tasted the marjoram, it filled my soul that she tasted the marjoram, me who lives 90% in the inner kitchen. She was real, and standing with her little daughter and another delicious woman in my flesh-in-blood kitchen. They’d popped in right after our lunch tarts left the oven.
Ah, the voices of women, they move like water, flowing in and out, splashing light on ripples. Their senses alive, no need to coax, they just say what they’re experiencing.
My husband, he thinks it’s compliments I'm seeking, but no, not really. Compliments are a box of girl scout cookies, a certain sort of craving, but once opened, it’s nothing but boxed cookies, nothing but vapor and a sore belly. No, not compliments, but engagement, a deep noticing, an attentiveness, a curiosity. That rare look outside of ‘ME’ into 'THIS'.
She was standing by the kitchen table, eating one of the chard and onion quiches, holding her hand under the little tart tin, trying not to drop crumbs on my carpet. The sheep feta, eggs and cream, nutmeg, with chard from the garden--that needed to be used, almost to bolting--- caramelized onions and garlic in a Pasta Frolla, an Italian short crust with a hint of sweet, which makes your mouth wake up next to all the savory ingredients. It’s my husband’s favorite crust, he was standing at the counter on his fourth or fifth tart, that’s his way of showing appreciation, not all the talk-talk, just eat.
She had a musing, head tilted to one side, tip of her tongue poised between her lips look. “Is that marjoram I’m tasting? I love marjoram, it’s my favorite herb right now.”
“ Yes, it is marjoram.” Marjoram the subtle sister to bossy bold oregano. Sweet, spicy but light, quiet and moderate. The trick is to add her fresh at the end, don’t cook her much. But my inspiration was that she’d lend a quiet off-set of spice to the sweet dough crust, but you’d have to be attentive to even distinguish it.
Yes, it’s marjoram. At the last moment, the whisper had come to add marjoram, I’d left the onions, chard and garlic softly cooking and gone out to the herb garden in front. My feet were bare, the May Day sun warm on the bricks. I’d squatted beside the marjoram, who’s variegated, but trying to return to green. The marjoram who lives next to the oregano, next to several types of thyme. Pause: that small moment between the constant doing, where for a fleeting moment you are aware of being alive, and making the choice to live a life where you stoop in sunlight, and pluck eight or nine stems of marjoram, and notice Spring all around you singing its haunting songs, and you breathe one slow breath of ‘Ah’ before returning to the stove.
I did wonder if that’s what marjoram tastes like to her?
Hi I'm Sido Maroon,