Imaginary Jamon Seranno Tapas:
1 small loaf of artisan bread
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, warmed in a pan
1 package *jamon serrano, or prosciutto ham
20-30 salt cured Moroccan olives
Thinly sliced Manchego cheese
1 tsp each of rosemary, crushed red pepper, and sea salt
*I can’t get jamon serrano in Fairbanks, but I can get moderate quality prosciutto.
1. Warm the bread in the oven. Don’t toast it. Just warm it.
2. Warm the olive oil on the stove. Again, just warm
3. Drain and slice the Moroccan olives (you may have to pit them first–I do) and mix into the olive oil.
4. Add the rosemary, pepper and salt to the olive oil.
5. Let the Manchego sit until room temperature. Slice thin.
Serve the bread, cheese, ham, and the olive and oil mixture separately. I prefer to eat mine with bread on bottom, a small spoonfull of the olives and oil, the cheese, then the ham on top. Drink beer and eat this until you remember what it’s like to be in the sun, wearing sandals.
We are down to 4 hours and 16 minutes of daylight. I woke up to -24F this morning. It’s warmed up a bit, maybe it’s -10 now. I can handle this. I’ve handled it for 15 years. What’s one more? Last December wasn’t so bad; it was my first Christmas after the Great Divorce and my kids and I went to San Diego for two weeks. Traveling in December helps Alaskans survive the darkest, and often the coldest, month of the year, and most Alaskans are ex-pats of one sort or another so they go home to see family in the Lower 48. However, this year, due to an unfortunate series of events, I can’t travel, and my ex-husband and his new wife will have my kids for Christmas. This means I will be spending my first Christmas alone. And when I say alone, I mean ALONE. All of my friends and colleagues are leaving for the break. Any sane person would.
Before you break out the tiny violins, let me just say that I have a plan. Plans to keep myself insanely, obsessively, remarkably busy so that despair doesn’t have even the smallest moment to sneak in and ruin what little sanity I have this time of year. Most of these plans revolve around food and imaginary trips to Europe.
Imaginary Trip #1: Seville, Spain
That’s a picture of street on which I was supposed to live for a few weeks this summer. I visited Spain once as a young girl. It was one of the formative aesthetic and gustatory experiences of my life. Due to those unfortunate events I mentioned above however, I won’t be traveling this summer either. But if three year olds can pretend lions and tigers live in their closets and insist that I feed them, the by golly, I can pretend to spend Christmas in Spain. That’s why God gave us Google Maps‘ Streetview.
And what will I eat? I will start here, in a market like this one. I will gather up a lovely selection of ingredients, perhaps to make a paella, my favorite Spanish dish. Then, I will ask this handsome young man where I might find some tapas and a bit of coffee. He will point me towards a bar down the street and an older man with a dapper moustache will say to me, “You see. It must stick to the plate like this” he will say.
And we will eat and drink until it’s time to go to a bullfight.