More Canned Goods
Early March tends to bring certain raw and not entirely explicable emotions to the surface for me. I have probably written before about the March fifteenth when I started crying in a Burger King parking lot just because it was a nice day (you can check for yourself: go to google and enter "anapestic 'Burger King' 'hyperemotional git'" and see what comes up). That was the most extreme example, but every year there is at least one instance in March where the combination of many hours of working, few hours of sleeping, the cessation of February's non-work distractions, and the recognition of the ungodly amount of work yet to be done leaves me vulnerable to attack from an unexpected quarter.
And so it was this past weekend that I found myself nearly overcome in the Hispanic foods section of the Shoppers Food Warehouse in Wheaton. I had gone there to buy ingredients for the vinaigrette and the canned bean salad that I wrote about a couple of posts back, and between the produce section and the wall-o-beans that is on the far side of the Hispanic foods section, I came upon a row of jars of foods that were packed alternately in brine and syrup. Some of the foods I recognized, but most were unfamiliar to me. I did not know, for example, that anyone packed hawthorns in syrup, but at least I'm familiar with the tree. Sadly, I did not have my camera with me and I don't remember most of what I saw there (I suppose I can always go back), but I was struck by one particular jar of something called something like "fernalindas." I have no idea what fernalindas are and google fails me utterly (I likely have entirely the wrong spelling), but it seems like the sort of thing I should know. Or at least it seems like the sort of thing I should be able to find out easily. Shouldn't my horizons be sufficiently expansive as to include an intimate acquaintance who can explain the many uses of fernalindas? Shouldn't I have an Hispanic boyfriend (let's say, just to avoid the use of generalization, Raymundo from Project Runway) and shouldn't I be able to just pick up my cell phone and, using the speed dial, say "Raymundo, I'm standing in front of some jars of fernalindas; what say I bring them home and you can show me what to do with them?" to which he, naturally, would reply "Si; the only thing I like better than fernalindas is you," and then I'd say something that would embarrass the stock clerk, but I wouldn't care because I would know that I would soon be enjoying my fernalindas.
This may not have been the exact string of thoughts that went through my head last Friday, and I'm sure that I was far more upset about the lack of sleep and overabundance of work and the scarcity of opportunities to cook (and, no doubt, the fact that V. has been in Sarajevo for nearly three weeks, though that was perhaps just as well at that particular moment, since -- further assuming a complete lack of common sense and discretion that fortunately does not yet exist -- I could not turn to him and say "Why aren't you Raymundo?" which would have made me laugh, but which would probably just have confused him) than I was about the absence of a cute Latin boyfriend, but in any case I was kind of bummed out, and my immediate solution was to buy a large can of tomatillos.
The very first time that I ate at the Austin Grill in Bethesda, the server brought us too small bowls of salsa. The first was a good but forgettable bowl of standard red tomato salsa. The second was a truly splendid green tomatillo salsa which is still listed among the salsas on their menu, but which I have never again been served. now. There are, of course, many other tomatillo salsa recipes available online, but it is a shame that I never wrote that one down.
I'm pretty sure that Austin Grill uses fresh tomatillos when they make their salsa. They probably also add cilantro and perhaps some jalapeno. I pretty much made my tomatillo salsa by draining the can and dumping the drained tomatillos into the blender out of which I had just poured my cilantro-lime vinaigrette. Then I added some garlic, some cilantro and a bit more of the vinaigrette, and I turned the blender on. The result was frankly a bit unattractive (though not, I hasten to add, nearly so unattractive as the picture above; flash, you know), but it was very tasty. More cilantro or perhaps some Italian parsley and a nice fresh jalapeno (or even some thawed frozen spinach) might render it a more marketable shade of green, and a little spice would probably be a very good thing, but the thin, tangy, pea-soup-colored salsa that I got was terrific on tortilla chips. And it's tough to imagine an easier recipe. It's just the sort of thing I need in March. That, and a few extra hours of sleep, but the tomatillo salsa is easier to come by.
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatillos, well drained
1/2 c. cilantro lime vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, chopped
Cilantro, to taste
Salt, to taste
Put the ingredients in a blender. Blend.