Fish are jumpin and the cotton is fine
Oh your daddys rich and your ma is good lookin
So hush little baby, don’t you cry
One of these mornings
Youre goin to rise up singing
Then youll spread your wings
And youll take the sky
But till that morning
Theres a nothin can harm you
With daddy and mammy standin by
Slow and easy, relaxed and cool. Summer is finally upon us, easing into place, wrapping herself around us in her warm embrace. She brushes a loose strand of hair from our face with a still-cool hand and whispers loving promises in our ear, promises of gentle breezes washing over us, promises of lazy days and naps in the green grass under trees and promises of the soothing lullaby of crickets and frogs as she gently rocks us to sleep at night.
Yet beware! Soon she will release her rage and breath her fire all around until we drop to our knees and beg for respite. Our clothing sticks to us, pressing against our burning skin like devils’ hands and we tear at the little that we wear as if those hands were trying to choke us. We wander around the house desperately seeking the one cool place, praying for comfort, as in one final despairing attempt we stand in the one cold spot in the house, bathed in the glow of the refrigerator light.
We toss and turn all night, wretched in the heat, the sheets knotted around our ankles, cursing the gods of summer as we count the ticks and the tocks of the night inching along on little sloth feet, praying for morning to finally arrive hoping that with it will come the hint of even the slightest breeze. We drag ourselves out of our bed, step over the poor dog splayed across the parquet floor panting even in his sleep and readjust the fan one more time knowing that anyway we will find no relief.
We wander into the kitchen in our mindless hot-weather roamings and wonder if we even have an appetite. We lean into the fridge and think that maybe the only thing inside worth coming for is the cold air. We should be working but have no strength and we wonder why oh why did we pray so hard for this unforgiving season to arrive. Do we dream of beaches and bike rides with the sun beating down on our backs and the day ending with our face the color of lobster? Or long car drives battling between the icy air conditioning or the open window, the air rushing at us only hotter than burning cement. We stare out the window, peering up into the sky and hoping upon hope for one of summer’s flash thunderstorms and the wind and drop of temperature that accompanies it. We slip into last year’s swimsuit and trudge down to the beach, loaded down with towels and coolers, children and dogs skipping excitedly alongside us, forgetting that by the end of the afternoon they’ll be hot and tired, itchy with sand in hard-to-reach places and thirstier than Moses after 40 years in the desert.
Ah, to sit on a shaded terrace somewhere, a glass of chilled pinot grigio or Prosecco in our hand, the soft breeze rustling the leaves in the nearby trees while the waiter brings us a platter of oysters and cracked crab nestled in ice, the quiet chatter around us lulling us into daydreams, only the gentle droning of the dragonflies and the clatter of glasses breaking through the murmurs. Or sitting lakeside, feet dangling over the pier, toes making lazy circles in the cool water, waiting for the barbecue to heat up and someone to bring us a plate of grilled shrimp and refill our glass with chilled Rosé, only to end the evening strolling back through the cool grass to the chalet where we will slip in between the cool sheets and snuggle up with the one we love.
Well, if it could only be that way. Here we are working and packing, vacation a distant dream, tossing and turning in the heat, trying to deal with the summer weather. We still need to put a meal on the table occasionally and we are loath to light the oven and simply add to the heat. We open the windows and pull closed the shutters and make a list of all the possibilities; the salads and cold soups, leftover Chinese food and thick slices of chilled watermelon. What to make? What to make?
Here is the ideal summer meal, light and cool, healthy and a snap to put together. I am sending this over to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her super SOUPER (SOUP, SALAD and SAMMIE) SUNDAYS. My first time ever with Deb and her gang, but this salad is too delish not to share!
ZUCCHINI CARPACCIO served with a MOZZARELLA TOMATO SALAD
For the Carpaccio you will need:
Zucchini, 1 or 2 for two people depending on what you are eating with it
An excellent quality extra virgin olive oil, I use peppery Carapelli
Freshly ground black pepper
Peel the zucchini, cut off the two ends and discard all. Using a potato peeler, peel the zucchini into long, thin, wide strips all around until you get to the center section with the seeds. This seedy center you discard.
Pile the strips of zucchini onto a plate. Drizzle olive oil over the carpaccio, sprinkle with sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper.
Using the potato peeler, peel curls of cheese off of the block of Parmesan and distribute over the Zucchini Carpaccio.
For the Mozzarella Tomato Salad :
Again, quantities depend on how many people, what you are serving this with and how much people eat.
Juicy, ripe seasonal tomatoes
Balls of fresh mozzarella, preferably the more flavorful buffalo mozzarella, if available
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Very good quality extra virgin olive oil
A handful of rocket or basil leaves
Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella into medium-thick, even slices. If using rocket, distribute it evenly over serving platter and then lay the tomato and cheese slices all over it in an overlapping pattern. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and a bit more generously with freshly ground black pepper. If using basil, distribute the leaves on top of the tomato and cheese slices.
Serve as is, with a bit of fresh bread if you like and a bottle of chilled white or rosé.