Roasted Lettuce

by Jacqui

There are some places I feel like I’ve never left, places where I instantly feel at ease. Minnesota has always felt a little foreign and slippery, somewhere I could never quite get my footing. But it’s one of a handful of spots I refer to as home, and that I feel drawn to especially when I’m away. I’m here for two months and trying to make everyday count.

The other morning I waited for the bus to take me back from downtown Minneapolis. I was leaving my friend Annie’s apartment at the same time she was leaving for work, lest you think otherwise, you dirty devil. For a few minutes, the sky was black, then a brilliant moody blue, the dawn of a cloudless day. Sidewalks were covered with slick, random patches of ice. Fat jagged aimless snowflakes whirled about, a reminder that this cycle of winter is still a very comfortable houseguest. People rushed to work, bravely bearing the elements in authentic Midwestern fashion. It was a morning I wanted to preserve.

At a supermarket last week, the condiment aisle was a veritable condiment kingdom. There were 6,297 different kinds of mayonnaise, which was exactly half the number of salad dressing choices. The produce section was a gigantic dreamland of seasonless bounty. Who, seriously, is buying dragonfruit in Minnesota in the dead of winter? At the co-op, though smaller, the variety was still unbelievable. Fat, bulbous golden beets, tidy bundles of asparagus, dusty, leafy red radishes, husked, lime-green tomatillos, meaty heads of elephant garlic, perfect violet plums, flat leaf parsley! – all specimens I hadn’t laid eyes on in a long, long time. I bought blackberries and strawberries and I didn’t care that it wasn’t June. I bought romaine lettuce and a jar of anchovies packed in oil and some of that weird, gigantic garlic.

Currency doesn’t look normal yet.

It’s easy to eavesdrop on conversations when you can understand the participants’ language. How would a polyglot feel?! I can’t imagine.

I am not too old or evolved or mature to argue with my dad, or my younger brother, but I’m old enough to apologize and mean it even if it still isn’t easy.

Roasting lettuce is not only simple, it’s brilliant, and it evokes an ethereal sweetness in romaine that I never knew was possible before the other day.

Hallelujah.

Roasted Romain, Caesar Style – adapted from Bon Appetit

Split two heads of romaine in half, lengthwise, and lay split side up on a baking sheet lined with foil. Mince a clove of conventional garlic, or half a clove of elephant garlic, and scatter over the romaine. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 5-8 minutes at 450 degrees until the edges are golden and crisp and the leaves have sufficiently wilted. Finish with four minced anchovies and a good squeeze of fresh lemon. Serve with a serrated knife.

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