Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quinoa Cereal: A new context

I think I might go to my ten year high school reunion.

I wasn't planning on going. For the past year I've been telling anyone who asked me that I was completely uninterested in attending.

"I'd rather eat chalk than talk to those people again," I'd say whilst seriously contemplating the palateability of the substance. I imagined grinding it up and stirring it into vanilla ice cream -- a delicious summertime treat. And clearly far less egregious than having to make small talk with my former classmates.

I had no interest in reliving that time of my life. The awkward years of braces, too-short-for-me jeans and an extra-large backpack filled with my color-coded notebooks for each class. I was perfectly content to pretend that I made a gracious transition from childhood to adulthood -- with none of that social pariah nonsense. I didn't need a reunion to remind me of the girl that I used to be. And I didn't want to see the people who made me feel like that girl.

Or so I thought.

Last Sunday I ran into one of my high school cross-country teammates at the farmers' market that's located a half-mile from my apartment.

"Diana!" She called out in the midst of my concentrated inspection of yellow peaches.

I whirled around, confused by the familiarity of the voice. It didn't belong in my farmers' market. It didn't even belong in Los Angeles for that matter. It was supposed to be in New York cohabitating with the husband she'd married at a wedding I'd attended in April.

"I live here now," She explained, telling me that her husband was offered a job in Beverly Hills a little over a month ago. That they'd moved into an apartment in the neighborhood -- my neighborhood. We exchanged mischievous grins as we realized how close we were located to each other. Visions of Comme Ca happy hours, impromptu weekend lunches at Joan's on Third and lazy afternoons and evenings spent gossiping at her and her husband's new air conditioned place filled my head.

I had a new partner in crime -- one of my original partners in crime.

This past Friday night we took full advantage of our newly discovered proximity -- and that happy hour at Comme Ca. Four glasses of $5 P. Cottat Sauvignon Blanc later, we stumbled back to her apartment where we debated the attractiveness of Avril Lavigne in comparison to Blake Lively with her husband, and reminisced about the days when I singlehandedly kept Premium saltine crackers in business.

"We should go to our reunion," She said at one point during our three hour conversation.

"Really?" I said with hesitation, the two glasses of wine no longer blurring my judgment about what is and isn't a good idea.

But she seemed excited about it. Told me that it was the sort of iconic experience that everyone should have at some point in their life so they know what it's like to go to a high school reunion.

"And if it sucks we can just leave and go drink somewhere else." She finished.

It made sense.

And having her in Los Angeles suddenly made sense too.

Walking home to my apartment on Friday, I was overwhelmed with how right it all felt -- having a friend who knew me back when saltine crackers were an essential part of my diet living so close to me again. Someone who knew and liked me even when I wore long Guess overalls over red t-shirts and memorized every single detail in my AP Biology text book. The girl who followed me in a red truck during my driver's license test. The girl who I sat next to in Algebra II with Mr. Sizer. The girl who I sprinted away from my dad with when he caught us drinking Dr. Peppers and Doritos in my garage when we were supposed to be at track practice.

Completely out of context, but completely comforting.

Just like having a big bowl of quinoa with fresh fruit and milk for breakfast.

Seemingly awkward, seemingly out of place, but some how perfectly sensible.

Quinoa Cereal
Serves 1

1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1/2 cup water
Pinch of nutmeg
1/3 cup milk (I use 2%)
Strawberries, blueberries, peaches or nectarines
Toasted walnuts

Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Add the quinoa, a pinch of salt and nutmeg, and a few good shakes of cinnamon. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until the quinoa absorbs the water -- approximately 15 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and let rest for 5 minutes uncovered. Spoon quinoa into a bowl and cool slightly in the refrigerator (approximately 10 minutes).

Remove quinoa from fridge, add milk and top with fresh fruit and walnuts.


the actor's diet said...

you should go! i went to my 15-year h.s. reunion and it was surprisingly wonderful. i had a lot of issues w/ my school and they all weirdly melted away for one evening. i actually view those years differently now.

catty said...

ahhhh cute post :) you should go... I think you'll be pleasantly surprised! when i went to mine err... too many years ago, all the popular girls had gotten married and fat and us geeks were now cool. Or so we thought. But that's all that matters, right? ps. you made me love quinoa, I am forever indebted to you!

Anna A. said...

my 10 year reunion was so much fun. you gotta go, esp since you've got OG /OC partner in crime. Love the idea of quinoa for brek too. I would eat mine cold. with milk and honey, and nuts no doubt.

Monet said...

You have such a gift. You tie your food in with such great stories. I swore I'd never go to my HS reunion too. I may change my mind! I hope you are having a terrific Tuesday morning. I'm about to head off to work and begin my day. Much love and hugs from Austin!

Gastronomer said...

My 10 year high school reunion was lame and expensive.

Quinoa Cereal, on the other hand, sounds awesome! Will you please come over to my apartment and make it for me? Pretty please?

Diana said...

Lynn - That's good to hear! I have these horrible visions in my head of what it will be like - mostly involving me standing in the corner watching everyone else have fun. Sounds like I should suck it up and just go! Thank you! :)

Catty - Geek? Not in the least! No one who loves quinoa could ever qualify as a geek! ;) So glad I brought you over to the dark side!

Anna - I was thisclose to dousing the whole thing with honey, but restrained myself! May have to try it though - perhaps with figs too?

Monet - I'm sure I'll be writing about the reunion in some way or another on here if I go! Hopefully I will not be relating it to some horrid dish! ;)

Cathy - Anytime! You make the muffins, I'll make the quinoa.

Jin said...

i love quinoa as a cereal but only use popped quinoa for it. have you tried popping your quinoa? it's amazing.