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Grilled Peaches with Basil Whipped Cream
sometimes good things can come from the rage constantly brewing inside you
Sometimes you just wake up angry. It’s not just “these days”, necessarily. It’s not just the burning need for caffeine before anyone speaks to you and summons the pre-caffeinated demon that is always lurking inside you.
It’s not just the campaign to return to normal because anything else is just so inconvenient. It’s not just the herding of underpaid and overworked professionals back into their respective places, serving the public’s needs, in order to maintain the class expectations of comfort.
It’s not just the ongoing and endless string of violences and murders perpetrated by those who are “supposed to” protect people. It’s not just the perpetual brutalization and murder of queer and transfolk that is largely ignored or just dismissed as a consequence of their audacity in living their lives. It’s not just the audacity of people who still believe that there is no inequity in this country since they have never experienced any (like peanuts couldn’t possibly be an allergen because I eat them all the time!).
It’s not even just the RNC, which feels a bit like watching a super long and poorly edited Christopher Guest show about a political campaign (except you aren’t laughing) and you are just waiting for none of it to ever have been real.
It could be any of these things, all of them, on any given day. Depending on who you are, it could be having to wake up every day, afraid of the harm this world intends upon you. You don’t need a reason, really.
You don’t trust people who do not understand why you are angry, always, even when it is just beneath the surface of your actual joy. You grow your joy in your rage because amazing things grow in shit (that’s just nature, you don’t make the rules).
Today you woke up angry and want to set fire to something, anything. You happen to have a grill, charcoal or gas, or maybe just a fire pit. Whatever will burn shit will do.
Maybe you use more matches/lighter fluid than you need to get it going and thrill a little at the wumff pphh as the fire takes its first combustive breath. Maybe you burn a few pieces of paper with your fears scrawled across them or maybe the names of your enemies. Maybe you gather every piece of fallen wood you can carry and pile it around your tinder, pushing every rageful breath in your body at a small spark until you are panting in relief as the bigger branches catch and the fire roars and you understand how ancient and old testament gods could gleefully wield destruction as a means of release, of grief, of utter disappointment and betrayal. You probably cry. Or maybe it’s just the smoke.
Sometimes cooking is an act of love and self-care, other times it can be an exorcism, only instead of bringing a demon forth, it might be a delicious dessert.
Once the fire has burnt away enough of the anger to allow you to consider making something good out of all of this, take the couple of peaches or nectarines you’ve been patiently ripening on the counter. Wash, half, pit, and massage them with a little olive oil.
Gently pluck the basil that you have grown or purchased or pilfered from a neighbor’s garden and tear it to tiny bits until you can smell the green beneath your fingernails. Add the tattered herbs to a bowl of heavy cream, a smidge of something sweet (maple syrup or honey?), and a pinch of salt. If this were not an improvised moment of comfort you would likely either soak the basil in a warm cream bath on the stove or overnight in the fridge, but that’s a plan for another kind of day.
Today, just beat that all together until it begins to hold shape, until the smooth splattering surface takes on structure, just able to hold a stiff peak. As you dip your pinky into the delectable ruin of cream, think of every metaphor contained in that moment. Or don’t, and just enjoy licking the airy cream from your finger.
Take the peaches/nectarines out to your inferno and place them on the pre-heated grate, flesh side down. Don’t mess with them. Listen to the sizzle. Picture the sugars caramelizing. Depending on how ripe your fruit and how hot your personal pyre, it will go faster or slower. You can poke at the fruit a little if you are worried, but it’ll be like 4-7 minutes. Maybe just go inside and wash some blueberries while you wait.
When you take them off, there is something about the grill marks that are satisfying, something about the way fire and heat make their mark, how harsh the blacked marks look against the supple flesh of the fruit. It’s not actual harm. Something about the heat, the constant exposure to flame, makes the fruit that much sweeter.
While still warm, serve with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with blueberries and a little extra basil, the rage settling into its resident place, like the bass note of every relieved sigh. Constant and ready to feed your joy.