Peace Love and Cauliflower

Rossi in her kitchen, photo by Melissa Donovan

Peace, Love and Cauliflower

The U.S. has been feeling like a scary place lately. In the last few years, fear mongering, hate spewing, misogyny, homophobia and racism have stirred up a division in this country probably not seen since the Civil War. Once again, it’s brother against brother, sister against sister, red states and blue states, Black lives matter (they do), white supremacists. Lordy. Was this how it felt in 1861?

I didn’t think things could feel any worse, but then, enter Corona. Fear, loneliness, loss of jobs, loss of business, loss of life, 230,000 lives … one might think this would make us stop hating and start helping each other. For a lot of us, it did, but far too many see wearing a mask as a political statement. Far too many ignore the helpless and lash out with cruelty.

It feels like an avalanche of hate.

I’m not an expert on stopping an avalanche of any kind. But I would think that returning fire with an avalanche of love would be a good start. That avalanche of love can’t just be passive puppy dog love. We can’t sit on our couches watching TV and say to ourselves that we’re a good person because we’re thinking kind thoughts. Not enough. We must be active. We must be loud. We must be transformative.

When we see human rights attacked in the name of religion, even if we practice that religion, we must speak out. If we shake our heads internally in disgust, but sit by and do nothing because we are not the oppressed, because it’s not our problem, because the oppressors are our family or compatriots, because we are toeing the party line, we are adding logs to the fire of hate. What happens when all the wood is burned? Who will be left to defend us?

So maybe we can’t stop the avalanche of hate, but we can chip away at it. We can give to those less fortunate. If we don’t have money, we can donate time. Think about what it is that we are good at and share some of that good with others. That was easy for me. I’m a chef. I cook for people in need. I’m a writer. I write about championing the downtrodden. I’m a girl with a big mouth. I use my big loud mouth as much as possible to open minds.

Peace.

Wars have been waged to get peace. That’s a terrible price to pay. I prefer fighting for peace with my voice and my pen.

Love.

Love doesn’t come easy. I’ve spent most of my life wanting to share love. I’ve had some fantastic highs, but far too many lows. At times my love life felt like a war zone. I’m 56 years old and having, possibly, the first healthy relationship in my life. It didn’t come easy. There were lots of bumps and lots of compromises. I used to think that when you met someone and fell in love, it was like falling into cool water on a hot day, easy and blissful. Right. Sure you’ll get some of that, if you’re lucky a lot of that, but then you have to go to work. If you want to keep that relationship alive, healthy and happy, you’re gonna have to compromise, negotiate, work it out, hash it out. Then you get to jump in the cool water.

This country is like one giant relationship with millions of people, most of them squabbling. No leader can solve all our woes. But someone who actually cares would be a nice start. Even if we get that caring leader, we can’t sit back and wait for him to save us. The days of Moses are over. We’ve got to stand up and take control of our own destiny. We’ve got to lead by example.

We sure as hell have to vote.

If enough of us choose love, if enough of us choose equality, if enough of us choose kindness, if enough of us choose humanity, we can transform this molten orange ball of hate. We have the power.

I’m a chef. I think about food all the time. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about cauliflower. I have always hated cauliflower. As a kid, I suffered through it’s bland boring taste in boiled vegetable medleys my mother dumped on our plates. In my early years catering, I hated the hard unpleasantness of raw cauliflower in crudité. I designed my menus to purposely exclude cauliflower. Then one day I went to a pal’s birthday dinner and was served a simple dish of spaghetti in butter with roasted cauliflower and currants. I don’t think I ever tasting anything better in my life. A few days later I walked into my kitchen, cut a cauliflower into florets tossed it in olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and roasted it until it was brown and crunchy. Sublime. Then came the cauliflower craze. The lowly cauliflower has become all the rage. We have cauliflower pizza, cauliflower rice, cauliflower crackers, cauliflower gnocchi.

If the lowly boring, cauliflower can transform into the new “it” vegetable, why can’t our country transform into the “it” country? We used to be the envy of the world. We used to be respected. We used to be called the good guys.

I’m going into my kitchen to make some roast coriander cauliflower and tahini salad, then I’m going to do something good for someone other than myself.

Chipping away at the avalanche bit by bit. Join me, and bring some cauliflower chips.

Rossi (aka Chef Rossi) "Queen of The Raging Skillet" Author, writer, blogger, radio host, caterer, chef and subject of a hit play! Out Loud and Proud!