recipe for a falling out
autumnal angst and appreciation
san francisco folks like to boast of a “perpetual fall,” but i’ve come to believe that this phrase belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the season. a quick wikipedia search for “mediterranean climate” — a fact-driven bay area laudation — divvies up our weather into two seasons: “dry summers” and “mild, wet winters.” wikipedia may be woefully out of date in its “wet winter” prognostication (eek), but its omission of fall-slash-autumn reflects reality: fall doesn’t exist here.
i’ve lived in sf for a few years so this shouldn’t make me sad, but, somehow, this year, it does. how counterintuitive: nonfiction knockouts like braiding sweetgrass and how to do nothing taught me to attend to the local, the natural, and yet my brain can’t stop rueing that september just doesn’t feel right here.
but right and wrong bear no universal meaning in regional climate discourse. my notion of “right” comes from the humid continental climate in which i was raised. it aligns with nationalized (if not globalized) calendrical norms — that entrenched ineffability that makes me pine for white christmases and warm summer nights — which might be the more rational thing to rue, as the expectations they engender have soured my relationship with sf’s seasons.
while i haven’t yet worked out my feelings about Big Calendar, i did make a salad-and-toast lunch whose palette and plants stay true to what i’ve seen this september in san francisco. as i wrote in the headnote of my last recipe, “i welcome you to tear my suggestions apart, taking only what resonates, and make your own meal.” wherever you are, whatever season you’re enjoying or enduring, i hope you happily while away an afternoon crafting a meal that matches your surroundings.
salad and toast for late september in san francisco
yields 1 serving (one bowl of salad and two toasts)
- two-thirds of a salad’s worth of spinach leaves, roughly torn
- one-third of a salad’s worth of collard greens, thinly sliced into ribbons
- some zucchini, diced
- most of a bosc pear, diced (see earth-toned toast)
- the green tops of a few scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
- a handful of chopped cilantro
- almonds, roughly chopped
- cashews, roughly chopped
- a couple of squirts of dijon mustard
- olive oil and balsamic vinegar, to taste
- salt, sumac, and lemon pepper seasoning, to taste
combine all ingredients in a bowl. toss with tongs and/or a fork and spoon and/or your bare hands. taste. if desired, season with additional olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, lemon pepper, and sumac. toss and taste again. continue seasoning, tossing, and tasting until the salad satisfies you. dig in!
- a slice of bread
- sunflower seed butter
- the rest of a bosc pear, thinly sliced (see green-and-gold salad)
- black and white sesame seeds
- salt, pepper, and sumac, to taste
using your preferred method, toast the slice of bread. slather one side of it with sunflower seed butter. arrange pear slices atop the seed-buttered side in a pattern that pleases you. sprinkle sesame seeds on the pear slices to garnish. season with salt, pepper, and sumac. eat up!
- another slice of bread (see earth-toned toast)
- one clove of garlic, sliced in half
- part of an avocado
- a quarter of a lemon
- part of an heirloom tomato, sliced in a style of your choosing
- salt, pepper, sumac, and everything bagel seasoning, to taste
using your preferred method, toast the slice of bread. once toasted, immediately rub one side of the bread with the cut end of a garlic clove half until the garlic’s pungency wafts your way. smash the avocado onto the garlic-rubbed side with the back of a fork until the avocado reaches your desired consistency. squeeze the lemon quarter onto the smashed avocado and season with salt and pepper. lay heirloom tomato slices on top of the smashed avocado. season with salt, pepper, sumac, and everything bagel seasoning. kali orexi!