We’re living in strange times here in America, surprising ones that demand thoughtfulness and action. It’s hard to start a first conversation after the election—even one on the internet—without mentioning this.
I’ve had the full range of emotions, which shows my cards as they pertain to our president elect. Yet regardless of position, I think we all can acknowledge that we’ve learned a tragic truth this election season: we’re even more divided than we thought.
But I have hope.
Because there is a fire in our bellies. All of us who have been made to feel small, who know what it’s like to be mistreated without recourse, who have been told that things would be different if we weren’t women gay black brown immigrant Mexican Jewish Muslim poor homeless
We, and our allies, we will not sit still. This world is still in the process of becoming, and it is up to us to help make it—we are the makers, bakers, singers, writers, teachers, lovers, builders, dreamers of dreams. We do not sit idly by. We do not sit in ivory towers, thinking without doing. We are noisy. We are big when they say we should be small. We get our hands dirty.
So today, we get to work.
Because I still believe that love will win.
And thankfully, we’re entering into the season of celebration and joy for the sake of it, and that’s something we can all be glad about—we need it more than ever this year. This is the time of gathering, singing, feasting, lighting all the twinkle lights, moving our bodies through traditions that remind us of all of the people who came before us—people who, as I frequently remind myself, made it. People who lived in this complicated, messy, confusing world, just like us, and (for some amount of time or another) survived! As will we.
Last week, I was in London for work. Unlike Northern California, London—like so many places outside of America—is full of reminders of the past. This never fails to capture my imagination. I paid a quick visit to the British Library, which houses an amazing collection of old literary artifacts of many kinds, from a copy of the Magna Carta to original Beatles lyrics to Jane Austen’s writing desk. They also have beautiful religious texts from every major religion, Scriptures carefully recorded and rerecorded, the pages of many hand decorated with colorful illustrations. I could have stared at them for hours. It was a powerful reminder that I’m not the first one here. My questions have been asked before. My pain has been felt, and my joy, too. My laughter is just an echo—a lovely and singular echo. I’m just one small figure moving through a very long story.
Which is to say, take heart. We will remember. We will look ahead. We will work.
And we will celebrate! Here’s a quick recipe for the season ahead; it was one of my small contributions to the very excellent Thanksgiving spread at our friends Joe and Celia’s house earlier this week. It’s a lovely appetizer, a simple embellishment to any dinner and quite a nice gift, too.
Inspired by this recipe on Food52
Feel free to follow this recipe loosely. If you don’t have these herbs, use others! If you have no herbs at all, that’s fine. Swap in another citrus for the orange, use crushed red pepper flakes or Aleppo if this is what you have, make this with only feta or olives if you prefer just one of the two. You could also include peppercorns, bay leaves or capers. The possibilities are endless! You can easily scale this up or down, too.
Also note that the olive oil you’re left with will be wonderful in any dressing you might want to make, delicious drizzled atop roasted or steamed vegetables, and an excellent thing in which to dip hearty slices of bread.
8 ounce-block of feta cheese (preferably sheep or sheep and goat milk), cut into cubes
6 ounces Castelvetrano olives
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 whole dried chili peppers
4 garlic cloves, peeled
Strips of orange peel sliced from 1/2 an orange (about 12 strips)
About 1 3/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
In a 1-quart jar, layer the ingredients: cubes of feta, olives, herbs, chilis, garlic and strips of orange peel. Pour over enough olive oil to cover, about 1 3/4 cups.
Store the marinated feta and olives in the refrigerator. Take the jar out of the fridge a few hours before serving so that everything can come to room temperature (especially important if your fridge is set cold—the olive oil might solidify).
Spoon the feta and olives into a bowl with a bit of the olive oil and any other ingredients that come along—a few sprigs of herbs will look pretty. Serve with crackers or toasts.