MA Road Trip: The Kindness of Strangers
The open highway can be an exciting place, filled with the promise of new experiences that teach you about how others live and see the world. But it also can be lonely as you swerve onto an exit lane and bunk for the night at a roadside motel; as you emerge out of the cocoon that is your car with the familiar sound of your iPod play list, you realize you're the new kid in town, without a clue, a friend or a restaurant recommendation.
Thank goodness for strangers.
It was Jeff from Minnesota and J.C. the bartender who kept me company at the High-Life Lounge in Des Moines as I tore into my chicken pot pie and sipped on a Hamm's, a Minnesota lager.
It was Norman from Palla, Iowa, who recently lost his wife and introduced us to his "special friend," also a widow, who showed us the beauty of rising from the ashes of sadness and lining up for the giant slide at the state fair.
It was Erin Coleman, a MA reader in Des Moines, who on faith alone trusted that I'd show up at her church on Tuesday night and teach her fellow congregants a few new tricks about cooking with zucchini and corn. And it was the women of Windsor Presbyterian Church, who showed up, with vegetables from their gardens and chose cooking class with a strange woman from back East over watching fellow Des Moinesian and gymnast Shawn Johnson pursue the Olympic Gold.
It was MA reader Sara Gilliam and her pal Kim (whom I later discovered was a reader) who broke bread with me and my travel companion Madge at an Indian restaurant in Lincoln, Neb., one of their favorite spots to sup in town. When we sat down, we four were all strangers, but it took no time for the walls to come tumbling down as we tore naan, passed wine and chatted like old friends.
Later this morning, we leave the friendly perimeters of Lincoln for a very long stretch of I-80 and the unknown of western Nebraska, but we're comforted by the prospect of new friends in a strange land.
Below, one of the recipes from Tuesday's cooking class in Des Moines.
Make-Up-As-You-Go-Along Corn Salad
For 2 ears of corn (estimate 1 per person), add the following:
1 small handful basil leaves, torn (alternatively, use flat parsley or cilantro)
1/2 medium sweet or red onion, diced
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small handful small tomatoes (cherry, grape, pear varieties work nicely), sliced in half
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (or, 1/2 teaspoon each cumin and coriander, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt and black pepper to taste
Husk corn thoroughly, including interior silk. Snap off ends if necessary to create a flat edge. With corn standing upright, place edge of sharp, wide-edged knife against kernels and slice from top to bottom, allowing kernels to fall. In a small saucepan, boil a few inches of water. Add kernels and cook for about 30 seconds.
Using a sieve or colandarand rinse under cold water. In a medium bowl, add kernels and the rest of the ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon as you proceed, tasting for intensity of spices and salt. Season until satisfied. Serve with grilled fish, chicken or as part of a larger vegetarian plate. Keeps one day covered in the fridge
By Kim ODonnel |
August 14, 2008; 8:27 AM ET
MA on the Road
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Posted by: K | August 14, 2008 11:25 AM
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