My book club recently read Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. I was hook, line, and sinker in love with that book. It’s the story of a young girl, who spends her whole life struggling against the current, trying to find her way. It has everything – beauty, scientific curiosity, adaptability, trust, distrust, murder, plotting, hope, hopelessness, love, rejectance <I’m doubling down on that being a word>, and acceptance. She has a profound love and appreciation for her marsh, deemed unloveable by everyone else, echoing the world’s view of her.
West Texas is my favorite part of the state. * There’s a killer dark sky program, with a museum and night sky party at McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, right in the Davis Mountains. * Or go try out all the food trucks and play with outdoor art installations at the Chinati Foundation or Prada in Marfa. At night, you can go see the Marfa lights. I’m not saying it’s aliens. But aliens. * And Alpine is a cool little college town with lots of outdoor murals, galleries, Big Bend Brewery (NOT affiliated with the park), and a fabulous museum at the University. We once saw Monty Python’s Holy Grail performed at their amphitheater.
That’s not what this trip was about. This trip was all about hiking. Six days filled with it at Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park. Ahhhhh. We stayed at a darling cabana with a great view of the park just outside its entry in Terlingua.
A million years ago, or 23 to be slightly more accurate, my husband and I traveled around Spain, Portugal, and Morocco on our honeymoon. The trip was beyond amazing! The Prado Museum and Plaza Major in Madrid were fabulous. The salt-crusted fish and possibly skinny dipping on the coast in Marbella were delicious. And in Seville, we fell desperately in love with the flamenco shows and Maria Luisa Park. And the tapas and thick hot chocolate. Tapas everywhere. It’s a garlic-lover’s dream.
Nik grew up in India, then lived in the Midwestern and Northeastern U.S., and finally settled in California with his husband from the Southern U.S. All of those influences are very present in his food, and it makes for the most delightful fusion. I was thumbing through Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food, oohing and aahing, flagging recipes to try. His spiced, roasted potato salad called for paneer and chourico as ingredients, but listed page numbers for their recipes. I’d never made cheese before and was delighted that he thought it was simple enough to be just a lead-in recipe. I hopped right in the car to go grab a gallon of milk to get started, and I’m so glad I did! It really was that easy. I can’t tell you how many recipes I’ve passed by in Indian cookbooks if I wasn’t going to have time to pop by a specialty market. That wont happen again! But that’s just background preparation. His dishes have wonderfully complex, deep flavors, and are creatively inspirational. This book was a joy to explore.