Vincent Schiavelli's Pasta chi Sardi a Mari
Gone Fishing

Douglas Keane's Chilled Cucumber, Avocado and Buttermilk Soup


This seems like just the week for chilled, vegetal soups. Especially ones enriched with buttermilk and yogurt, giving the pureed vegetables a pleasant tang and lactic heft. As for ease of preparation, there isn't much that's simpler than chopping up a few cukes and avocados, and blitzing them into liquescence with some salt, sugar, vinegar and the aforementioned buttermilk and yogurt. All the fuzzy bits get strained out and the whole thing is chilled to a sublimely cooling state before being topped with mint strips and spooned up for dinner.

Douglas Keane, the chef at Market in St. Helena, provided the recipe to the LA Times a few years ago. I made the soup and ate a bowl one night, but I haven't been able to bring myself to finish the rest off all week. It's not the soup's fault - it's quite lovely really: the sweetness of the avocado mellowing out the more astringent qualities of the cucumbers and buttermilk, and don't you agree that everything in summer is improved by a topping of feathery strips of mint?

But the recent appearance of an entire family (clan? pride? gaggle?) of nuclear-sized cockroaches (waterbugs, my foot) in my apartment, my impending four-year anniversary at work (four years? What on God's green earth am I doing with my life?), an ongoing struggle with my insurance company (do they want me to cry every time I am forced to call them?), the miserable and defeating state of my bank account, and the fact that I'm long overdue for a vacation (6 months, people, is too long to work without a break, American work ethic be damned) is making me irritable and weepy and in need of nothing more than cereal for dinner and a big helping of french fries covered in chocolate sauce and love for lunch.

So, I'm leaving the healthy soup (probably providing good nutrition and glowing skin to boot) behind in search of something that will leave me feeling a bit more soothed and sheltered. Whether I can find that in food remains to be seen.