Shopping at the outdoor market is so romantic and the fall produce looks so good and is so cheap that it’s easy to walk away with bags of tomatoes, peaches, plums, mangoes, potatoes, carrots, spinach, leeks, petite heads of lettuce…stuff that could easily make a fabulous meal, if only there were someone with a recipe and the time and the ganas (or desire) to do it. And isn’t that the aspirational, Spain-living me?
So far I’ve made zucchini gratin, espinacas con garbanzos and leek and chard tart. There was improvising and learning: dried garbanzos really do take three hours to cook; chard in Spain can be purchased chopped and prewashed in a plastic bag just like a salad mix; the tart would be better with the crust from this recipe rather than puff pastry. And there was gratitude for being able to live in a place where the Mediterranean diet is just the diet (and one that can easily be made vegetarian).
Since Lou started school 11 days ago, he has mostly dropped a well-established practice of telling us he doesn’t like foods based on appearance or preconception alone, and shown a willingness to try things (at home) and to take several bites of things he may or may not like (at school). We have the school lunch ladies to thank for this. They insist that kids eat half (or all?) of the first course before they are served the second course (courses!), and a certain amount has to be eaten before a child can go to recess and end the day by playing. Just this week Lou enjoyed spinach baked with cheese, some kind of fish, and lentils. He does not love gazpacho (a chilled and garlicky pureed tomato soup that has been a frequent first course), but he’s eating it and bracing for the seasonal change to salad, which he says he likes even less. A ver. We’ll see.