Everyone is talking about it. Actually, everyone is complaining about it. The weather. Spring has theoretically come and gone and summer should be creeping up on us, tapping us on the shoulder, breathing her sumptuous, sultry breath down our neck.
But all we see is rain.
There is nothing new is under the sun. Year after year, the turbulence of springtime comes upon us with a vengeance, teasing us with a day or two of bright sunshine, steamy and hot, her come-hither look inviting us to strip down to the bare minimum, loosen our hair, fling ourselves into her open arms with abandon. Then she tilts her head back and laughs aloud, teeth bared, and once again she has tricked us into believing that her sister summer has arrived. She rips off her mask and there it is, the final days of another season, grey and gloomy, dark and threatening. Chilly breezes make us drag back out our coats, huddle under umbrellas and rush through the rain-dampened streets thinking of nothing but bowls of soup and muffins warm from the oven.
Springtime’s wanton ways trouble us year after year, the long winter and those first few balmy days making us forget that this happens year after year, a repeat performance. Turn on the tv and watch as the Italians and French are surprised by unexpected flooding, knee-deep in water in their own homes, cars crawling through the lakes that have formed in the streets, fists raised at the tv cameras screaming their disbelief and calling for compensation, as if the flooding was the government’s fault, as if it doesn’t happen every year. I have lived through surprise snowstorms in May in New York after already having packed away the winter gear, I have sloshed knee-deep through the streets of springtime Milan on my way to taking the kids to school, I have spent months of June in Paris and Nantes under the rain, waiting.
Maybe we Floridians are more pragmatic, being raised in that wild, savage, harsh environment, so close to nature no matter how built upon it is. Growing up, spring meant the beginning of hurricane season, carrying into summer and through the fall. Nothing unusual for the hot, humid, sunny sky to cloud over and turn black and menacing, the skies opening up and pouring down with no mercy. Thunder booming, lightening flashing, and then gone as quickly as it came to reveal once again the brilliant sun and summer day. Run for cover, pulling bikes behind us, waiting patiently for it to pass. Tornados on the horizon and we follow dad inside, crowd together on the sofa in the back room as he scrambles to open all of the windows, excited with this mysterious phenomenon.
Maybe we are more accepting of nature’s tempestuous moods like a passionate, temperamental lover. The unrelenting sun, the burning sand, the sharp, cutting flora, the ruthless swarms of mosquitoes as we simply smear pink lotion all over our skin and shrug our shoulders leave us if not quite blasé, at least forgiving of nature’s ups and downs, permitting the temper tantrums and outrageous demands for the chance to lie peacefully in her arms, lulled by her caresses and tender words the rest of the evening.
Summer should be picnics and days on the beach, swimsuits bought and vacations planned, afternoons of iced tea and sorbet. Instead we curl up in front of the tv and watch archeology documentaries with mock reenactments or silly American comedies and complain. Complain because of one more day of rain, one more day wearing sweaters. We check the calendar one more time, not quite believing that it actually does say “June”. We do our own private little dance to chase away the rain, the seemingly endless bad weather and plan a menu accordingly. And just as we take our shopping basket in hand, there it is, the sun! We bow down to Her Highness, that magnificent Goddess of Summer, we kneel at her feet and bask in her warmth and we pray for her to stay and wrap us in her glow and never go away.
Planning for this month’s Potato Ho Down, created by Cathy of Noble Pig and hosted this month by Krysta at Evil Chef Mom, began early in the month of June when the weather was cold and dark and miserable. Mmmm, all I could think of was a steaming bowl of potato soup. Yet as I finally found the time to cook, grabbed my basket to head to market, summer appeared. Warm and sunny, this was no time for a hot meal. This, my dear, was finally, happily, salad time.
And salad I did. So simple, so special, a salad all grown up. Tender-cooked fingerling potatoes in their earthy-tasting skins, beautiful, sweet asparagus steamed until delicate, red red fruity cherry tomatoes, fresh crab meat and, my favorite, smoked salmon, all drizzled with the cleanest lemon-olive oil vinaigrette, snapped up with chopped fresh chives. Now, doesn’t that just say summer?
This is for a summery Potato Ho Down!
POTATO-ASPARAGUS SALAD WITH CRAB MEAT AND SMOKED SALMON
Potatoes, boiled gently until tender but not falling apart
Asparagus, steamed in lightly salted water until crisp-tender, or as tender as you like
A handful of sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes, sliced in quarters
2 steamed crab legs per person
1 thick slice of smoked salmon per person
4 – 5 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chives, chopped
Prepare the vinaigrette by blending the olive oil and lemon juice together. Lightly salt and pepper. Whisk or shake together in a jelly jar.
Slice the cooked potatoes into thickish slices. Cut the asparagus into inch-long pieces. Quarter the cherry tomatoes.
Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the vinaigrette to taste.
Place the dressed vegetables on individual plates. Sprinkle with the crumbled crabmeat. Roll each slice of smoked salmon into a tight roll and cut into half inch slices and distribute evenly among the plates. Top with chopped chives.
Serve with a clean, crisp rosé or white wine and some fresh bread.