Sometimes when you want to be alone, you have to find solitude in the crowd. To watch the crows lined like gargoyles on the stoplight lit green, waiting for the cars to come, to swoop down and steal the children. Watching the young crippled girl sing her lovely song, but no one leaves a dollar in the outstretched woven basket. The vendors remind you of your nine-to-five, their chapped hands and grey-wrinkled eyes remind you of winter, of your mom, of home. Each vendor has an antidote, each more conscious of buzzwords like "sustainability" than the last. I find myself smelling small baskets of grape tomatoes, setting them down and promising to be back. Going to the nearest ATM and paying a $3.25 surcharge to go back and buy those tomatoes. Asking if they're heirloom, not knowing what that means exactly. I find myself emboldened by the knowledge of a meal to come, the way it creeps into my mind like nerve-friction. How I can sense something creative, and each greengrocer and fishmonger in Little Italy lays out the totems of inspiration. I brush against a vendor selling caramel sauce, ask someone about culinary school. He says he's against it, but I don't believe him for a second. That night, I google Le Cordon Bleu tuition. I help a seller sharpen a knife and say I'm partial to Japanese knives (I'm not).
I lied to everyone, said I'd come back before I left for eggs and ox and hummus. I didn't. I pretended. It was free to pretend until I knew what I was looking for. And I found it in the plastic bin like the kind my mother keeps Christmas ornaments in, hidden in the corner of a ruddy, earthen woman's stand. She spoke no English. I asked her how much the zanahorias were. Two dollars. I smiled and picked the most exotic of the root vegetables. The ones that were twisted, mangled sensually. The kinds that had curves and humps, small Venuses of Willendorfs in the crisper bin in the fridge. Purple, orange, and tan, the color of spider veins. The color of the earths.
I picked up bread, cheese. Green beans and sea salt. I picked it up and carried it home in a brown paper bag. I felt legitimized by my purchases and want to keep my promise to the farmer, that I'll come back in April when he'll have quail eggs for me. But, until then, I'll keep making this verdant green pesto, and I'll welcome Spring with open arms.
Carrot Greens Pesto
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup almonds (dry toasted in skillet for five minutes)
- 2 cup carrot greens
- Scant 3/4 light olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly-grated parmesan
- Put almonds in a skillet and toast over medium heat for about five minutes until begin to brown and become fragrant
- In a food processor, process almonds and garlic until finely ground
- Add greens and pulse for two minutes, or until a paste forms
- Add parmesan, pulse until incorporated
- While the motor is running, slowly pour oil into feeding tube and continue to run until full incorporated
- Store in container for at least two hours for flavors to incorporate, use as you would basil-based pesto