While awake in the middle of the night, hoping like hell one’s infant will go back to sleep soon, one experiences a range of emotions, including, but not limited to, joy, frustration, fatigue, anger, sadness, despair and, with any luck, relief. And, as one sits rocking away or pacing incessantly in the inky blackness of the wee hours, one’s mind has a tendency to wander. If sleep deprivation didn’t rob one’s short-term memory, I’m sure some of those wandering thoughts would be quite fascinating to recall. Equally, I’m sure, most would be best left unremembered.
Nonetheless, it’s entirely possible that during those miserable vigils I have had one or two stellar ideas that I wanted, and somehow expected, to remember upon waking exhausted the next morning. Happily, forgetfulness also prevents disappointment at moments of inspiration lost. The situation is reminiscent of that old joke about the man who upon being informed by the doctor that he has both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, replies, “Ah well, it could be worse, I suppose. At least I don’t have Alzheimer’s too.”
Long-term fatigue also tends to deprive one of any kind of inspiration during the day, making one more than usually reliant upon external sources. This is especially true at the end of a long winter spent largely confined to quarters. As long-time readers may know, we have been, and remain, rather skeptical of social media. Our opinion being that it allows people to be highly selective of what they share, enabling them to project an image of themselves alarmingly at odds with reality, but amongst all the noisy over-amplified joy and complaints about petty things, there occasionally arrives something worthwhile.
This past Saturday, after a particularly wakeful night, and as the news hysteria peaked about the latest blizzard to hit our area, I noticed a simple and fresh composed salad of watermelon, red onion and feta on Instagram. There was nothing unusual about it, in fact, as compared to a lot of the food we see on that social channel, it was remarkably plain and unadorned. Perhaps that was what struck me. Perhaps it was that I knew similar ingredients were inhabiting our fridge or perhaps it was simply that being so tired the attraction of assembling a dish over cooking one was apparent.
Even so, I was still able to make the connection between watermelon and melon, and join together the prosciutto that accompanies melon in the classic Italian summertime appetizer with the Spanish chorizo we had bought at Wegmans. But that was about as much inspiration as I could muster, so the remainder of the dish – red onion, feta, papaya – got on to the plate by virtue of their presence to hand. Even the rather uninspired name – meat salad – isn’t my idea. Credit for that goes to @alanavisco, close friend and Instagram devotee.
I forget who it was but some wise chap once quipped that good composers borrow, great composers steal, so it may be agreed that there is nothing wrong with copying. Feel free to make a facsimile of this, you won’t be disappointed.