“Never love anyone who treats you like you are ordinary.” Oscar Wilde
A charmola is a spice and herb paste with cumin and cilantro being the common denominator. It is a seasoning that is applied to seafood and its influences are inspired by the Ottomon rule of North Africa during the Middle Ages. It’s easy to make, it’s super flavorful and makes a great summer salad.
Some of the seasonings of our personal story, Abby’s and mine, was the strong desire to communicate with each other. After her death I went out to Wisconsin with my husband and our son Sean for her memorial. The day before the service her daughter Rita handed me a recently found shoe box crammed full of handwritten letters I had penned to her over the years before emailing and texting became the faster way to correspond. I’m glad we straddled a different time.
I brought the box with me to the studio and have been reading them one at at time. One letter I read was dated November 14th, 1995. I had taped a tea stained Salada wisdom to the top of the paper. It read, “A friend is one who knows all about you and loves you just the same.” Then I wrote “Corny but true. Our last phone call was a high! Can you believe we can talk 4 hours on the phone and still have so much more to say? A mystery. I love you so much Abby. I have always loved you. I can not imagine life without you. You are worthy of this kind of love (life with acceptance, love and understanding)- don’t ever forget this.” And then below it in a box I wrote, “me too.” Of course I teared up reading this. And later I thought, not a new thought but why is it so effing hard to truly love ourselves? It was for us, that I know for sure, and it caused a whole lot of self induced suffering throughout our lives. Decades later we still talked and connected over our seemingly never ending struggle to understand it. Even now, it oddly still remains an elusive mystery that slowly, slowly unravels as life moves on and ironically, grief appears to be the ever present guide lighting the way to reveal, yes, the love is for me too.
Ingredients: 12 jumbo shrimp shelled and deveined, 2 large blood oranges peeled and segmented, 8 sun dried tomatoes soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and drained, 2 large shallots chopped, 1 garlic clove chopped, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, 1 inch fresh ginger peeled and chopped, sea salt and pepper, chopped cilantro
- Cook the shrimp in a large saucepan of boiling water for 3-4minutes until they turn opaque. Drain and cool, Place the shrimp and oranges in a bowl.
- Combine the sun dried tomatoes, shallots, garlic, ginger, spices and oil in a food processor and blend into a smooth paste. Add the paste to the shrimp and oranges. Toss and season. Add cilantro and serve with a crusty bread.