Quinoa "Pilaf" with Mushrooms
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Quinoa "Pilaf" with Mushrooms

Quinoa pilaf recipe with mushrooms, scallions and bell peppers

Quinoa with a Pilaf Twist. But first, love.

It has occurred to me this week that I lack the sentimentality gene. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy a lively romp down memory lane now and again, just like any crow-footed post-mid-life goddess with a lively past and a healthy sense of curiosity. It's amusing- even illuminating- to look back down the road once in awhile. To catch the rear view. To shuffle through old photographs, to listen to a song that evokes the summer of '69. That night in the back seat at the drive-in. Peter Fonda on the big screen. The bolt of first love.

But I am not wistful or gauzy eyed, thinking about the past. I don't romanticize it. Though I had an awfully good time of it (I admit I embraced my tender freedom with gusto).

What is astonishing to me, hitting me upside the head in a virtual shakabuku, is how good my instinct was, way back then. At the tender age of 15. And 17, come to think of it. I made some pretty fine choices back in the day. My teenage heart seemed to know a thing or two about love. Though my complicated childhood made it inevitable I would eventually feel undeserving, and soon enough gravitate to the familiar territory of exploitation. The roots of self-sabotage are sown in the shadow of the dysfunctional family altar. Just when the individuating soul is awakening, the unconscious rumbles from its slumber of innocence and stirs up the familial ghosts to hook its ugly claim on fate. It whispers, You think you got out free and clear, eh?

Some never pry themselves free. Some simply give in to momentum. Some accept less, willingly, and swell with stoic pride. Some find religion and pray to angels. Some choose work. And some replace love with sentiment. The pale excuse for love. The embroidery of nostalgia and its rose-tinted ribbons, investing in a picture that looks pretty to strangers. It is not perfect, but it looks good.

But that's not love.

Love isn't mediagenic. It's messy and complicated and often the timing sucks. Love asks us to get dirty. To risk authenticity, not sugar-coat its opposite. Love doesn't depend upon perfection. Or what the neighbors think. Love seeds itself in the broken places. It prefers the company of weeds above roses. And love doesn't require being polite, being correct, being right, being the best. Love asks us to hurt. To stretch beyond what is bearable. To feel scared. To lose control. To be ridiculous.

It took me twenty-five years to find it again. That deep, true love. And this time I grabbed it.

And after twenty-five more years, I hold it tight, still. 

So dear reader.

On to pilaf! No rice in sight.



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