salad club

The Salad Club

In my recent cooking class on salads, I talked about the “salad club” I was in at work; the first rule of salad club: tell everyone about it and ask them to join in! It started off with two women; two coworkers forging a bond of friendship through food. Slowly more joined in with the lure of a healthy lunch. By the time I went to work there, The Salad Club (and it must always be capitalized, it’s that important), was in full swing.

I can’t remember the circumstances or how it was that I joined in, perhaps it was the “cool” thing to do – perhaps I wanted to “fit-in” as the new staff member; but in no time it was like I’d always been there, salad and beyond. What is The Salad Club, you ask? Well, exactly as it sounds: a group of people who eat salad for lunch every day. Nothing is planned, we bring in what we can or what we have and prepare a communal lunch with the day’s offerings. There’s no pretense or context, it’s women enjoying each other’s company and trying to get their 5 to 10 a day just like everyone else.

Through the sharing of our food, our bits and pieces of beans and veg, we women, were sharing ourselves; bits and pieces of life, of laughter. In those precious 30 minutes we shared snippets and slices of who we are. In the midst of chopping and peeling, we mixed easy banter, and a little teasing tossed in for good measure. Along with the hearts of romaine, we built a community in our hearts – one that all of us are sure to remember.

And by and by, I’ve come to see, it wasn’t my roasted chicken, gluten-free muffins or my truffles they all loved – it was me – they appreciated me – for who I am, not for what I could cook or bake. In sharing the fruits of my kitchen labours, I was sharing a piece of me, I was sharing my heart, and they understood this and came to cherish it. These women were kind, honest, and gentle, and for the first time in a long time I felt my heart burst open (just like Donna’s palm when she tried that tricky technique to pit an avocado.) Wise, wonderful women; women who love themselves as they are, not afraid to laugh heartily, eat well or indulge in chocolate (of which we had an emergency stash.) Their example taught me to let go of the façade and love not only the woman, but the child within myself.

– Recipe for the Salad –

Greens or no greens, it’s up to you? A few handfuls, yes, that’ll do.

Lovely little cherry tomatoes, and avocados, of course, add those in; peppers and cukes, they’ll add a nice crunch
Oh looky, here’s last night’s dinner potatoes, toss them in, today it’ll be a feast for lunch!
Please! Please! Don’t forget the cheese, c’mon don’t be stingy, add a bit more;
Parmesan crisps, feta, bocconcini: fromage galore!

Beans, seeds, dried fruit; I go gaga over dried blueberries, I’ve never had them; are you nuts, why yes, add those in too!
Roasted chicken, bacon, mmm bacon they say…whoo hoo!

Splash of olive oil; squeeze a fresh lemon, “Why do I always get all the seeds?” I pout.
Cactus pads, called nopal, pea shoots, and broccoli sprouts,

“You have to get a Costco card,” they all say, “Look at the tzatzikis!”
Fresh baked bread brings everyone to their knees!

Olives, much loved, all varieties aplenty;
Membership in the Salad Club means our tums will never be empty.

We’d remember the protein to keep us going through the afternoon;
Chickpeas, eggs, and delightful quinoa always had us humming a merry tune!
I’d leave notes on items in my fridge at home, “For Work, Don’t Use!”
My husband would say, “No fair, you share the best foods!”

Oh, and hummus, there’s always hummus, garlicky, chunky hummus. You really don’t need any other dressing when there’s hummus. “Hummus, hummus, I got the hummus!”
We ask the others, but they shake their heads, they don’t understand, when we say, “Would you like to join us?”

“That’s not a salad,” someone remarks, “Why don’t you just call it what it is: it’s a big plate of food!” But of course our salads are nonesuch!
And don’t forget Colleen’s Sweet Onions: finely chopped, a bit is nice in there, but not too much!

I must confess, as much as I loved those salads, those raw vegetables weren’t the best for me and my IBS. Forgive me, for adding that, I do digress,
It wasn’t the food, the salads I loved the most,
It was the company of friends, my comrades, which I’ve missed since I’ve bid adios!

Natasha B | Edmonton, Alberta

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