Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves. – kundera
One of the quirks of modern life and identity I find to be too ubiquitous: the constant need for passwords. I cringe every time I have to go through the process of selecting another combination of letters, characters, and numbers just to access my own personal things. Like this blog for example – it had gotten so underused, so dusty, so incredibly prehistoric that my browser wasn’t able to tell me my password… so naturally I stopped publishing and approving comments as a result of my lost password and not because I was too lazy to use the password reset button. When I couldn’t remember which combination of magic letters I had chosen for my blog, I thought, rather recklessly, I really just want to change the design of my blog anyways. Except that I couldn’t because of this. Even the thought of changing my blog’s design made me feel like a phony under the scrutiny of the internet whose prowling eyes made me feel embarrassingly vain. This led me to like my blog less and less the more people started looking at it. That was all well because I felt like I liked myself less and less and that congruity suited the digital and real universe I’m straddling.
So why write here at all? Especially if I couldn’t remember the proper letters to unlock my ugly internet food diary. Those who know me or have read enough of my stories will likely have already guessed – my sleepless nights are keeping me up till 5 am and I particularly enjoy screaming publicly embarrassing things at my computer screen because I can only do so at night when I should be sleeping. Instead of sleep, I go through periods of paralysing anxiety attacks. I try it all: alcohol, supplements, drugs, meditation, masturbation – sometimes twice! The fatigue from trying leaves me frantic but at least I haven’t tried running away again. I’m in too deep here and I really wanted the change of habit. I wanted to stick around and figure things out rather than running away from my fears… I used to wonder what it was like on the other side of fear. Of course that was just foolish. There are no clear, divisive lines – I’m just ambling along and periodically when I glance back I’m just one step closer to one fear than the last. It is that eternal struggle that makes personal growth particularly bitter. Was it a leap or a jump that I wanted to name the crawling? I move slowly. Or at least now I try to acknowledge it! It all went very very slowly… and the only thing that is slower is forgetting.
Of course in the midst of all this I am having a hard time leaving my room. Again. I’m despicably predictable. On one of those few trips outside my room I staged and photographed this salad inspired by another trip outside of my room to a nice restaurant in town. All that movement made me feel accomplished save for the fact that these photos have been sitting, untouched for weeks possibly a month now and I still haven’t found the words to properly communicate my paralysing anxiety attacks. I was hoping that in making this salad post, I can force myself into emotional clarity. It hasn’t, but that’s fine I guess because I should just get used to having fog for feelings. It’s a good thing I take great pleasure in all things fog!
If I can turn fog into a salad I would, but I can’t so I continue making them out of regular, everyday things like fruits and vegetables. Unlike fog, vegetables have a lot more texture, color, weight… well, basically everything. They are more substantial so I can toss that foggy emotional shit aside and have a salad of something vibrant and affected, in a nourishing way. But let’s not mess around with anything delicate! This salad brings deep fried sunchoke roots, shaved fennel, rosy radicchio, ivory endives, a trio of citrus segments, and if that wasn’t enough I made the dressing using some fancy creme fraiche. I deserve it and so does your salad!
to serve 4:
leaves & fruits
1/2 fennel bulb, shaved (use a mandolin, but carefully!)
3 radishes, shaved
1 endive, leaves separated and cut into forkable sizes
1 young radicchio, leaves separated and cut into forkable sizes
¼ grapefruit, segmented
½ cara cara or other sweet oranges, segmented
2 lemons, zested and then segmented
3 TB creme fraiche
3 TB fresh lemon juice
lemon zest from above
1/3 ts salt
double-fried beer battered sunchokes
1 lb sunchokes, cut into 1 in” segments
simplified beer batter: 1 bottle of beer; 1 c ap flour (use ½ rice and ½ ap for more airy textures!); 1 egg (whisked), 1 ts salt
extra flour for coating sunchokes
coarse salt for finishing
+ Prepare all of the salad ingredients before deep frying your sunchokes. Once you have the sunchokes fried you want to serve everything immediately. You’ll dress the salad lightly, then adding the salted sunchoke “croutons.”
+ To prepare sunchokes, I usually put them in a bath and scrub them well. Then I cut them into segments and boil them in a hot salt water bath (at least 2 TB of for every quart) for up to 15 minutes. Depending on their size and age, this may vary. You want them very tender but not falling apart. Test them all with a fork or by squeezing them. Try a few! This will help you understand how it feels to the fingers when it is tender. Tender, creamy sunchokes fry up better because the exterior will be extra crispy and the contrast highlights the sweetness of the roots.
+ Bring your oil (I prefer grapeseed, but other neutral oils will work) to 375 F while you prepare the beer batter.
+ Start in a large bowl. Some beer have been lost in the making of this batter and you don’t want that. put the whisked egg, flour, and salt into your large bowl and then pour in the egg. The batter will be very thin.
+ Keep a plate lined with paper towels handy for when the chokes are crispy-golden.
+ Next, coat the sunchokes in flour, then dunk them into the batter before frying. They will get airy and crispy – depending on the type of rice flour and/or flour combination, you will get varying shades of golden brown. It should take nearly 3 minutes, maybe longer depending on how dark you like your batter. As you’re frying, be sure to keep the batter mixed periodically so that all of the flour does not sink to the bottom.
+ Finish all of the sunchokes before their 2nd fry. You won’t need to dust them with flour for the double batter, just dunk them into the beer batter and refry. Sprinkle them with coarse salt once you pull them out of the second fry.
+ To serve the salad, lightly dress the leaves in ½ the dressing. Then, place the orange segments and sunchokes on top. Then, use a spoon to drizzle the rest of the dressing all over everything. Enjoy!