To make margaritas, you need lime juice, and a lot of it. Limes are not native to central New York, so I knew this would constitute the greatest sacrifice of food miles. However, due to our special occasion, I decided it was a worthwhile sacrifice. Isaac is Mexican and missing home, so I hoped this would bring him joy.
As we were both very hungry, Isaac offered to help me juice the limes. Watching him work, I knew I was watching a mindful man.
First, he taught me that when picking limes, always look for ones with smooth skin. That means they are ripe. He sliced open a bumpy one and a smooth one to show me the difference. The bumpy one had a very thick and tough rind, while the smooth one’s was thin and supple. He juiced them both and showed me how the ripe lime gave twice as much juice as the unripe one.
For each lime, he meticulously turned it over and over on the juicer until it ran dry. Then, he stuck a spoon inside the lime, held it over the glass, and turned it over in his hand until no more juice or pulp came out. Then he squeezed it very hard, until all the juice pods stuck out of the cut face. He scrapped those pods against the rim of the cup to get any remaining pulp and juice from the barren lime.
This is how to juice a lime.
While deciding what meal to prepare for my close friend Isaac, I considered four things.
First, his diet and physique goals.
Second, the food miles of the ingredients.
Third, his personal flavor preferences.
Fourth, whether or not this meal was a special occasion.
Each meal I prepare forces me to stress these four considerations appropriately. In the case of this meal, prepared on a Friday night, I decided I would stress diet and an end of the week celebration most heavily. The next most important consideration was Isaac’s personal flavor preferences. Lastly, I would stress the importance of reducing the food miles of the ingredients chosen.
I decided to make chipotle-honey shredded chicken with black beans, served over rice and pickled red onion for a garnish. I also made homemade margaritas.
An old man walks up to a soup counter.
He says, “Hello folks! How are you doing on this lovely day?”
The girls behind the counter giggle and smile at his sincerity.
“Oh, could I get a large of that corn chowder? It looks delicious!”
“Of course!” the girls reply. They kindly fill his weathered mug.
A few minutes pass after the old man leaves.
A young woman walks by the soup counter on her way to the sandwich and salad line.
She looks at the options and sneers.
“I would never eat corn chowder! How disgusting!”
The girls behind the counter chatter in agreement. What a gross thing, corn chowder.
The old man returns with a smile on his face.
“Boy, that chowder was delicious! Do you think I could please get another cup?”
“Of course!” the girls reply, smiling. They fill his weathered mug.
Within community is exclusivity.
Within frugality is abundance.
Grilling in my backyard on long summer days is all of these things.
Nothing brings friends together like food. Most summer days for dinner, my friends and I would gather in my backyard. Some would be playing basketball, others sipping on a cold beer. Creedence Clearwater Revival plays in the background.
I, along with my cooking compatriot Will, prepare the night’s meal. We set out a stack of plates and silverware, along with condiments. Ketchup, spicy mustard, relish and sauerkraut are the essentials. We form patties, slice and butter buns, and wrap fish and vegetables in tin foil (with a little butter, lemon, and pepper of course). Then, out to the grill.
With a hot side and a cool side prepped, we begin stacking everything on their respective racks. With burgers and brats, a char is first built on the hot side, then cooked on the cool side. Everything must be done in a timely manner to get out all the food while it’s hot.
When done successfully, or even not so much (experimenting with recipes is one of our favorite pastimes), there will always be 15 satisfied and grateful men.
Even though it is a lot of work, there is no more satisfying feeling than having your friends thank you for a meal.