Heidi Kuehne knows how to make good chow. Under her window in Leith, aromas beckoned alluringly. I didn’t even need to know the apartment number– I just followed my nose.
This singular, shaven-headed woman distinguished herself last week at the little antique shop Now & Then (friend had to show me this cool nook) by her American accent…
“Hey! You an American too?”
“Yes….” she smiled. I jumped up and down (can I really be this homesick?) then let her finish the purchase (seriously antique bicycle lamp).
Now & Then is so small (AND PACKED WITH FASCINATING THINGS) that a pair of Americans schmoozing is, well, a crowd.
Wow. A crazed, committed American biker. In this town!
“Why don’t you come Wednesday for dinner?” she asked me suddenly.
Wow. No wasted time. well…maybe she is like me in more ways yet to be discovered.
OK I’m supposed to write about food.
The meal: I have pix, and will show you sometime. Her friend Sinead Collins was along. Sinead is almost half our age, also a “post-doc” in evolutionary genetics, and possibly the fastest-witted (and swiftest speaking–200 wpm) youngster I’ve met in years. A perfect foil to a pair of ‘mature’ biker bon vivants . She is a book-binder (Japanese style) and also has a food blog: kitchendancing.blogspot.com
Starters: a wee dram of …er…nice whisky. In a laboratory beaker, the tiniest I’d ever seen.
Then, fresh baby tomatoes salted with smoked “jail salt” (an inside joke, about what Sinead would smuggle in if Heidi is ever incarcerated for being Too Original), and napped in olive oil, then dusted with the finest powder of fresh pepper–thanks to an antique pepper mill our hostess has dragged along with her for the last 20 years….hmm…another shared trait: requires proper pepper, regardless of inconvenience, weight of device, etc. This too deserves its own picture. Imagine a shiny brass cylinder incised with designs and sporting the strangest but oddly ergonomic accordionesque handle.
And the main dish: Mujadarra (aka lentils with caramelized onions)
equal amts red lentils and water (3/4 cup of the dry lentils will feed three hungry people)
Slightly more than half that amount (1/2 cup) of basmati rice
1.5 cups chopped onions in good olive oil (1/4 cup), cooked in a heavy pan (be sure to stir) until darkly sticky
Combine cooked lentils + rice with the onions. Laugh at how easy and cheap it is….
Saute some okra to go along with it.
Serve with red wine,
and follow with fresh walnuts, chocolate, and very large, sweet dates.
Pull out banjos (Heidi has one, a Mike Ramsey!) and play until dead-tired.
Ride home singing.
Get invited in for tea by downstairs resident in Grove St.
Fall asleep in own bed, again…not in Kansas anymore…..