Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I've got a lesson to learn.  I would never pull the petals apart on a bud out of impatience to get to the full-flower stage. Watching the process is a joy in itself.  So why the impatience with spring's arrival?

Change, in some form, is what usually brings people into talk to me...in my other life

The inherent instability of transition can make us feel wobbly, uncertain, attached to one side or the other of the shift that is at work.  Eager to feel better, we often try to distance ourselves from that which we are leaving and cling to the promise of what lies ahead.  In making that reach across the divide we miss the rich opportunity of learning the lessons that transition offers. 

In Tibetan Buddhism, such a transition or suspension between two realities is called the bardo.  Traditionally referring to the state between life and death, an example of a similar transitional space exists between waking and sleeping (or visa versa).  These are the bardos

If I can manage to release the need to be in one state or the other, the suspension allows me to learn to simply be in the transition.  One breath after another, I'll reach the other side. 

So it is with the current seasonal bardo I happen to find myself in.  Neither winter nor spring, I'm in a suspended state of transition in which weather can delight or discourage me.  I've recently taken notice of my attachment after an altogether too-long winter. 

I get cranky.  I get irritable.  I become impatient for sunshine and warmth.  Attachment becomes my middle name during this transtion.  I began noticing this theme in my recent posts and decided to take on the lesson being offered. 

After a really lovely, warm and bright weekend, we have the threat of rain today.  Skies are grey.  A slight breeze makes temperatures feel colder than they really are.  But today I'm dedicated to being with it.  I want to love all the breaths of transition that will happen between now and the actual landing into the season that the calendar says arrived a few days ago. 

One of the ways I'm going to do that is to enjoy the last of the winter fruits and veggies in the marché.  The other day,  I managed to hit just the right mix and let inspiration and willingness to be in the bardo between the seasons lead the way. 

A wander through the market - and a commitment to let my intuition plan dinner - had me flying by the seat of my pants.  I picked up some broccoli rabe from one of my favorite bio-vendors, a too-good-to-pass-up soft, fresh goat cheese mound (looking all festive from what appeared to be a raucous roll in crushed red pepper flakes) and a solid head of our Provençal garlic, wrapped in a scarlet and lavender striped cape.

Meanwhile back at la maison, I found half of a butternut squash - likely the end of the season for these golden beauties - and some angel hair pasta that was waiting to find its purpose in life.

Here's how it rolled from that point:   

The squash went into the oven (where a dish you'll see next week braised and bubbled) to be baked as an entire chunk.  When it was soft, I pulled it out to cool it just enough to cut into chunks and spoon its still-warm flesh from the skin.  Those chunks were the first to hit the pot to await the rest of the party.

The broccoli rabe got a quick blanch in a steamer basket in the top of the pasta pot before the pasta went in and was then put aside to drain.  Next, the angel hair pasta went into the bath.

The poissonier had given me an extra little fillet of dorade on my wander through the marché, which I sautéed to serve alongside the pasta and while it cooked, I sautéed some sliced garlic in a bit of olive oil just to the side of the same pan.  When it was soft, into the gathering pot it went - followed by the now-drained-and-still-warm broccoli rabe.

The goat cheese was next, each smooth chunk yielding a piquant pungency as the spoon separated it from the mother-mound and sent it into the pot. 

When the pasta was done and drained just enough (it's okay if there's a tad of moisture in this when it gets added to the mix), into the pot it went to join the fête. 

Give it a good toss and you've got dinner!  It has the look of spring's freshness with a sweet, warmth of winter-cozy.  I drizzled it with a good quality olive oil (a little curtsy to my friends in Spain who taught me that Pasta Putanesca should be served 'wet and sloppy' - which always makes me giggle.  No, no...not like a third-grader.  Just because it sounded so...decadent? Messy?  But they were absolutely right!  It makes a difference!)  and voilà! 

A little sautéed fish fillet to balance it out and I'm tellin' you...this is a keeper!

If you've got your nose pressed to the glass, drumming your fingers against the pane, impatient for spring to unpack its bags and stay awhile, I invite you to join me in celebrating the transition.  With possibilities like this pasta, I might just be able to learn something from this bardo state.

Bon appétit!


Anonymous said...

What an inspiring post and I get to have dinner as well. The recipe looks divine and easy too.

I have read The Tibetan Book on Living And Dying and am familiar with the term bardo. I sometimes feel being in it just before I awake so I know what you are talking about. I really learned a lot by reading that book.


la fourchette said...

Kris, yup. That soft space between sleeping and waking - a bardo. TBoLaD (Tsogyal Rinpoche's version) is a gem. Hope you enjoy this recipe - or whatever inspires *you* - in the transition.


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