31 July 2014

it's a choice to be happy

Sometimes, I worry a lot.

I worry about life, or work, or my health, or whatever struggle it is that I think I'm facing that day.

But today, I received an email from an ex-colleague in Israel, after I had checked in on him and the team. Instead of me being worried for them, I ended up getting teary-eyed as I read the email. Speaking to someone who is there, caught in the crossfire, but still trying to make life as normal as possible, was sobering.

It really put things into perspective. When they ask me how I've been, how can I possibly respond with something as mundane as, "Well, things have been so-so, I've been a bit stressed because of recently."

So a note to myself, when I think I'm going through a rough patch: Everyone is going through their own struggles. You are safe, you are healthy, you have enough food and a roof over your head, you have family and friends you can rely on -- you already are much, much luckier than most people.

It's a choice to be happy.

27 July 2014

summer salsa

When I first arrived in Paris, I lived in a colocation with a French girl who had grown up in the Côte d'Ivoire. One Sunday, while I was still burrowing under my covers from the winter cold, she knocked on my door to invite me for lunch. So I padded over, still buried under a thick sweater, fleece pants, and socks, for a simple lunch of fried sardines and mango salsa she had thrown together from a trip to the weekend market.

My eyes widened as soon as I put the first spoonful in my mouth. It was the tropics in a single bite. I could feel the heat, the sun, the sea breeze -- heck, I even expected afrobeat music to start playing in the background.

This summer, the burgeoning heat in Paris has had me craving for fresh summery flavors: I've been feasting on tons of charentais melons and watermelons, sipping icy lemon juice, and fantasizing about filling my vegetable compartment with ripe juicy tomatoes still on the vine.

Then I found myself dreaming of that sardine & salsa dish again.

So here is my attempt at my own version: sardine fillets marinated in lemon and herbes de provence & pan-fried in olive oil, some couscous, and salsa. (Forgive the plating, it's really not one of my skills.)

I'd never made salsa before, and was surprised to find how quick and simple it was to make. As I didn't have any mangos, I made a version from ingredients I could easily find. Alter the quantities to your taste-- I love how coriander adds an extra zing of freshness to a dish, so added a ton of that!

Avocado Salsa
2 avocados, diced
1 onion, finely shopped
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
1 tbsp. lemon juice
A sprinkle of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss, and stir. Let stand for around 10 minutes to let the flavors settle, and serve.

Bon appetit!