Summer Socca, Grains of Sand

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Saturday night I stood in the ocean, letting the frigid Pacific rush at my toes and then tug with an invisible powerful force back into the sea. I watched that tide pull a million grains of sand from their resting place, scattering them back into the depths and I thought, My life is sand. And then a silent whisper, Let it go.

I stood there until time seemed to stop, and then gently, finally, I let the tide pull and scatter and let land my intentions to become what they will.

 

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Afterwards, William and I shared bento bowls at a little hole-in-the-wall with ‘world beat cuisine,’ live music, and skulls and wisdom inked in crayon across the walls. We sat at the bar which was really a table with the waitress sifting through orders a half-arms-length from me, and I shared–with tears welling to the corners of my eyes and fingers desperately hugging a cup of ginger tea: I wish I had a timeline. That’s the hardest thing. If I just knew that I’d feel better in three weeks or three months or three years, it would be easier. The unknowing, what even tomorrow will bring, is challenging. My entire life, I’ve had a plan; I’ve had a timeline. It is terrifying to have intentions without all the usual signs that I’m moving toward them.

 

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Recently, I fell apart in my doctor’s office. She asked how I was doing and as I tearily told her about my anxiety and the fear, indecision, unknowing, and how I’m used to having my life figured out and put together, she calmly responded in her sincerest voice, Oh, Rebecca, you have it sooo together. 

At the time, I couldn’t see what she meant. I couldn’t see that even being able to recognize the internal and external chaos and responding to it –healthfully– is having it together, is being on the right track.

 

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Eleven months ago, I had a message come very firmly in prayer: The lesson is in the unknowing. I thought about that message for weeks and months afterwards, trying to wrap my head around what it meant for me, as if it were a foreign code to be deciphered. I’ve lived that message daily in all the months since, and as I stood in the ocean Saturday night, I was reminded that letting go has to happen repeatedly, daily, until doing so becomes inherent as the grains of sand letting the water scatter them back into the ocean.

 

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When you begin to pay attention — I mean center your attention, turn off the chattering mind, get present and really tune in to your environment — you begin to realize that even the tiniest observations, events and exchanges can carry meaning…To put things in perspective, I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I have found myself in a metaphorical canoe without a paddle – unsure where I was being directed and just surrendering to the current, present and open to what might come downriver and proceeding only on intuition, instinct and faith…It’s always and without fail exactly where I am meant to be. I know this to be true because every time I peer into my rear view, it always adds up. Good or bad, the math is inevitably perfect.      – Rich Roll

 

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Summer Socca with Grilled Eggplant, Smashed Tomatoes, Olives + Basil, makes 2/serves 4

When I’m feeling all out of sorts, one of the ways I get grounded is by spending time in either the garden or at the Saturday market, ‘talking shop’ with my favorite farmers, and then subsequently cooking up a delicious meal with the results of the bounty. The speckled eggplant above is the Listada de Gandia, a French heirloom. Socca too, is a French ‘pancake,’ made of chickpea flour. It is infinitely simple and serves as a perfect base for grilled summer vegetables. Toss together a little salad of greens, a light dressing, and perhaps a fistful of cooked grains to round out the meal. 

Socca:

1 cup chickpea flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

a dash or two of black pepper

1 cup water

olive oil, to coat the pan

 

Garlic-Basil Oil:

1/4 cup olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs. minced fresh basil

 

Toppings:

2 small eggplants, sliced into thick rounds

4-6 large tomatoes

14-16 Kalamata olives, diced

2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil

Sea salt

  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and then water. Whisk until you have a smooth batter. Set aside while you make the basil oil.
  • In a small dish, combine the olive oil, garlic, and basil.
  • Heat an indoor grill (or outdoor grill, if you have one and a grill basket for the vegetables.)
  • Rub the whole tomatoes with a light coating of the olive-basil oil, and set them on the grill whole. Cook until they are soft and slightly charred. Remove and set aside to cool for a few minutes. With fingers or a pastry brush, lightly brush the oil mixture on each side of the eggplant rounds. Grill for about 4 minutes and then flip and grill the other side, until slightly soft. Remove and once slightly cool, cut each round into quarters.
  • Tear or lightly chop the tomatoes into smaller chunks and set them in a fine-mesh strainer in the sink to drain lightly, if they are quite watery.
  • Heat a large skillet on the stove over medium heat and lightly brush the bottom with oil. Pour in half of the socca batter and tilt the pan to distribute it evenly. Cook for about five minutes, until the bottom is browned and comes away easily from the pan, and then flip to do the same on the other side. Repeat with the remaining socca batter.
  • Remove the socca to a serving platter, brush the bottom with the remaining garlic-basil oil mixture, making sure the basil and garlic are distributed evenly, and then top with the eggplant, tomatoes, olives, and remaining basil. Sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt and serve.
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3 responses to “Summer Socca, Grains of Sand

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