My plane was taxiing to the gate at LAX when I got the text from Keith, “Bad news in the world…. Major terrorist attack in Paris.” We’d returned from a month-long stay just 5 days earlier.
So many emotions hit me at once: disbelief, anger, fear, sadness. How could this happen? What if we’d been there? Why would anyone do such a thing?
These are questions without answers. They are questions that I doubt the people of Paris will dwell on. They have enjoyed great prosperity and endured great hardship since the city was established in the 3rd century BC. I perceive Parisians as sturdy but kind; peaceful but strong.
The response of Antoine Leiris, a man whose wife was murdered in the attacks, is one example:
Friday night you took away the life of an exceptional human being, the love of my life, the mother of my son…I will not give you the privilege of hating you. You certainly sought it, but replying to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance which made you into what you are. You want me to be frightened, that I should look into the eyes of my fellow citizens with distrust, that I sacrifice my freedom for security. You lost. I will carry on as before.”
And these attacks are not what I’ll think of when I remember Paris.
I’ll remember laughing with the man in the cheese line at our feeble attempts to talk about cheese without a shared language; I’ll remember the man who went out of his way to help us when we’d lost our way in the park; the woman who stopped to explain why a garden gate wouldn’t open despite our efforts, “It’s been locked for two years over a silly argument with the owner,” she explained while smiling and shaking her head.
I’ll remember the couple who opened their hearts and home to us, inviting us to choose a bottle of wine from their cellar then serving us an unforgettable meal of seared duck breast, butter roasted figs and walnut tart.
I’ll remember the glow of young lovers on the metro, how they existed in a world of their own, eyes locked, raptly intent on the other’s every word.
I’ll remember the architecture, the paintings, the sculptures that filled my eyes with tears and my heart with gratitude.
I’ll remember climbing the Eiffel Tower on a clear night with a full moon and a sunny Sunday spent strolling through the Luxembourg Gardens.
And I’ll remember Parisians for their reverence of food, of valuing quality over quantity, of eating by season.
In that spirit, I’m sharing a salad recipe with you today that is a picture of autumn, a mixture of tender, emerald kale; crunchy, buttery hazelnuts, and crisp, sweet-tart apples, tossed in a vinaigrette of sweet apricot preserves, piquant Dijon mustard, tangy apple cider vinegar and peppery extra virgin olive oil. It’s delicious and complex, tart and sweet, robust and subtle, like the City of Lights and its people which I have come to love.
- 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch Italian Kale, sliced crosswise into very thin ribbons (~1/4-inch)
- fine salt
- 1 apple, cored and thinly sliced (I used an Opal apple, but any crispy sweet-tart apple will do)
- ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 ounce Pecorino Romano, thinly shaved
- To make the vinaigrette: whisk together preserves, mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. Add olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- For the salad: place kale ribbons into a serving bowl; sprinkle lightly with salt and massage until kale is bright green and tender, about 1 minute. Pour vinaigrette over and toss to evenly coat kale. Serve sprinkled with Pecorino Romano shavings and chopped hazelnuts.