If you had asked me, all those nights ago, why I decided to go ahead and kiss him, despite thinking, Rats, this will have to end, I’d say, because it was fun. Because he had spent all night standing this close to me at a concert neither of us were terribly enjoying, with new friends I was trying hard to like, all the while wondering when we would, in fact, share the kiss.
He wasn’t hard to love, with his beguiling ways and heart blazing with kindness and affection, and generosity streaming from every action, and endless smiles, and always “yes, sure,” and lots of those beautifully white teeth.
And he loved me too, perhaps unwittingly, not understanding fully that I am romantic to the core and do not take love lightly. At least, not usually.
So it went on, the dreary winter months magically transformed into Saturday mornings making the scrambled-eggs-with-tomato recipe he learnt while in China, while I brewed paleo-Turkish coffee and danced around my kleine Kuche. It was easy, simple, fun.
Christmas came, I went to England, missed him a little bit, and we almost split. But neither of us were ready for it, and after a long talk filled with tears on a snow January night, decided that we still loved each other. Back to eating and drinking and cuddling.
The new year started with surprising gusto, and I flew to India, walked the streets of my childhood home, and simply could not imagine the sweet boy of few words I’d left behind in Germany walking alongside me. There, amidst the millions of brown bodies breathing, dreaming, hoping beside my own, I started to dream of another boy – the one who taught me to cook, and began, for me, a fascination with simple, delicious food. But you can’t break up with someone via Skype, it’s just not good karma. And being in the land of my own birth, I didn’t want to mess around with karma. So we send lovey-dovey text messages that flew through fibreoptic cables through time zones and thoughts, our worlds growing further and further apart.
But then he greeted me with flowers at the airport, meeting the bags under my eyes with such openness and that warm, tender embrace reminiscent of many nights spent thinking about me while I gallivanted around India, and I knew it was over. The evenings we formerly spent together cooking dinner dwindled to none, and I began, once again, to cook for one.
Calamari reminds me of evenings spent swinging my sandy feet under a bar stool precariously perched inside the dimly-lit cafe owned by a rather tanned curly-haired, smiley French man and his Malagasy wife, listening to the waves crash upon themselves and the endless dark ensconce the night falling around the beach restaurant, laughing with new friends.
This salad is a little bit like a break-up: grapefruit for the bittersweet of a love that had to end, the rubbery texture of squid similar to what it feels like to squirm in that uncomfortable “talk”, and pomegranate seeds for the delicate thread of luck, sprinkled throughout, reminding you that new love will come. Surely, it will come.
Calamari freedom salad
*loosely based on this recipe.
0.5 tsp dried basil
0.5 tsp freshly-ground pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 inch dried chili
2 legs of squid
1/2 ripe grapefruit
13 Kalamata olives, sliced in half
handful of pomegranate seeds
1. Dice all three cloves of garlic, and sauté on medium heat with basil, half a teaspoon of salt, chili, and the pepper.
2. After 2 minutes, add the squid, sliced into three-inch-long pieces.
3. When calamari begins to cook, add in olives, and stir lightly.
4. Just before taking the mixture off the stove, add in the grapefruit diced and let simmer with the heat turned off.
5. Serve and garnish with pomegranate seeds while pondering true love.