The gearhead and I celebrated 15 years of marriage the other day. Well, celebrated probably isn’t the right word because we didn’t: go out for a romantic dinner for two [wife edits: my preference]; or spend a night away at a country inn [wife edits: again, my preference]; crack open a bottle of champagne [wife edits: a satisfying, albeit moderate, resolution]; or open a tiny velvet box filled with sparkling jewels enveloped, artfully, in gold [wife edits: I’m not really a diamonds and tiaras kind of woman, but I’ll take it when offered].
Instead, I arrived home after a long workweek to discover an inordinately happy gearhead fussing around what looked like a souped up go-kart. “Happy Anniversary!” he said. [Gearhead edits: it’s a Formula Ford!][wife edits: WTF is that?! – other than code for an extremely high price tag?!].
Up until that moment, the idea of a race car, or rather, purchasing a race car, (because let’s get down to the bottom of this, specifically the bottom line), was a surreal, kind of abstract, conversation I half participated in, never quite believing the dream would become a reality sitting in my driveway. What kind of bottom line are we talking about? Without divulging actual figures – [gearhead edits with a whine: that’s private information – nobody needs to know that!][wife edits dryly: google it and the world knows Mr. Gearhead] – for the price of the coffin on wheels we could have put a kid half way through a university degree; or finished the GD bathroom [wife edits: I put my contacts in my eyeballs using a cheap pharmacy mirror no bigger than the palm of my f-ing hand every morning!]. [Gearhead edits: calm down…this is what I’ve always wanted to do! This is my dream!] [wife edits steaming: just like hurling yourself off the side of mountains on skis; just like crashing through pine forests on a mountain bike; just like collecting cars in a big barn?][wife edits silently, internally: what about my dream?].
I have learned, in fifteen years of marriage, to look inward and to check the root of resentment and anger – for the sake of argument, let’s call this “wisdom”. Was this jealousy, toxic green poison, rearing it’s ugly head? What is my dream anyway? With that thought, the anger dissipated. Poof, gone. [wife edits: I feel like the Dalai Lama].
So I wanted to cook up something that would embody the green of jealousy, the heat of anger and the bile of bitterness. But I wanted it to be delicious, because, after all, riding these emotional roller coasters is what makes us human. I wanted to emulate that feeling with a taste bud roller coaster. This dish is fantastic – not for the faint of heart. The recipe originates from Jamaica where the flavour of scotch bonnets and habaneros are appreciated (and differentiated) by discernable palates. The combination of allspice and bitters adds an elusive depth of flavour that one comes to crave at unexpected times. This makes a great side dish as part of a meal, especially with buttery fish. It’s also great tucked into an omelet. The recipe comes from The Greens Book by Susan Belsinger and Carolyn Dille.
With my heated, bile driven, anger snuffed out, I was able to approach the new situation (wife of a newbie race car driver) with a clear head. You, dear reader, may find that difficult to choke down, but here’s the thing, the sport comes with some perks. Look at these stylin shoes! And they’re fire proof! That race car is a clear ticket to never feeling guilty about buying myself another pair of shoes [wife edits: that’s an anniversary gift worth having!] .
Still, watch out Mr. Gearhead, I might just have to trade you in for a Jamaican [gearhead edits, no longer smiling: you’re still here aren’t you?!][wife edits: wistful smile, sparkling eyes].
Jamaican Style Greens
2 pounds (900g) greens (spinach, chard, kale, collards, or a combination)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) butter
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 small onion, diced finely
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) freshly ground allspice, or to taste
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 small chile pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
Stem and wash the greens. Put them in a non-corrodible pot with the water that clings to the leaves, cover and cook over medium heat until wilted.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
Roughly chop the wilted greens and add them to the onion, along with the allspice, salt, pepper, bitters and chile.
Stir well, cover and cook the mixture over low heat for about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot.