Monday, March 1, 2010

On an Easy White Bean Dip Recipe and Being Late to the Party

Today on Serious Eats, it’s Niçoise Pasta Salad. If you’re craving a little bit of summer, you will love this like a loving lover.

The Onion’s AV Club recently asked its writers about art they discovered too late – stuff that could have been life-changing at 17, but meant zilch at 27. A few contributors mentioned video games and Star Wars. Another, Harry Potter. One woman claimed Bob Dylan did nothing for her, having been subjected to so many bad impressions before hearing the actual thing.

It was kind of a bummer, honestly. (A life without Star Wars is a life without joy.) But it got me thinking about things I waited too long to try, and how that timeframe affected my appreciation for them.

Let’s see. Emo music is definitely one. What I might have found romantic and charmingly melancholy at 20 sounded like self-indulgent whining at 25. Same goes for everything on Cartoon Network. In 2000, it could have been revelatory. In 2010, I just want Tim & Eric to get to the point already.

The big tuna: I read On the Road when I was 27, about ten years after I should have. It came highly recommended, and the prose was all it was cracked up to be – weird and gorgeous, evocative and elusive.

The problem came with the message. Instead of, “Let’s hop in a Chevy, ditch this town, and fill our time with freedom, just like Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity!” I thought, “What irresponsible jags, leaving their families and responsibilities for such silliness. Those beatniks need some damn jobs.” Harsh, man. Harsh.

The experience made me happy I caught One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest my sophomore year of college, and Catcher in the Rye in 9th grade. They’ll always be two of my favorite novels, probably because all teenagers relate to alienation. Sometimes I wonder if I would find them foolish now, if I had just picked them up for the first time. How sad.

It’s such a relief, then, that the opposite happened with food and cooking. They meant nothing to me as a kid; they were means to an end. The less time they took, the better. But age has made me appreciate vegetables and cast iron pans, spices and the pleasures of a good roast chicken.

There’s no easy way to segue into a White Bean Dip here, so I’ll just awkwardly cut to the chase: this recipe is tasty, fantastically easy, and dang addictive. It’s barely even cooking, actually – more like alchemy. Just a few ingredients thrown together to create manna.

That aside, what about you, readers? What did you discover too late? How do they differ from the things you found later, but appreciated immediately? What do you look forward to getting into? It's all about possibilities, isn't it? And if something doesn't connect, that's okay. But what a thrill when it does.

If you like this recipe, you might also appreciate:

White Bean Dip
Makes 6 servings of 1/4 cup each.
Adapted from Ellie Krieger.
(This is actually a picture of CHG's hummus, because ... uh, technical malfunction? They look pretty much the same, though.)

1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Puree. Taste and see if you like the results. If not, add more of what’s missing. Serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
115 calories, 4.5 g fat, 4 g fiber, $0.28

1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained: 440 calories, 0 g fat, 24 g fiber, $0.99
1 clove garlic: 4 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, $0.05
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil: 239 calories, 27 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.23
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice: 8 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, $0.40
Kosher salt: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
Freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
TOTAL: 691 calories, 27.1 g fat, 24.2 g fiber, $1.69
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 115 calories, 4.5 g fat, 4 g fiber, $0.28

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Kimmer said...

After seeing the musical Rent, I felt OLD. I realized that if I'd seen it while in college, I would have been sooooo moved by their plight, their passion. Instead, at the ripe old age of 32, I couldn't help thinking, "God, you whiners, get off your asses. If you want something, go after it! It isn't going to just fall in your laps!" Then I told some kids to get off my lawn.

Becky said...

The Twilight books. I probably would have enjoyed them as a teenager, but reading them as a 27-28 year old, they got increasingly more stupid and annoying as the series went on.

Also, don't hate me for this, but The Catcher In The Rye is for me what On The Road was for you.

Angie said...

Ditto what Kimmer said. I was 24 when I saw it-- young, but old enough that I'd been scrimping and saving to pay my NYC rent in full and on time every month for a couple years. All I could think was, "Why *don't* you just pay your fucking rent?"

About the recipe-- I don't have a food processor. How difficult do you suppose it'd be to just mash it all together with a fork?

Kris said...

Angie, I think it'd work great with a potato masher, and if you call it "Rustic Cannellini Spread," folks will be super impressed.

Regarding the pop culture stuff, great calls. I have yet to see Rent (though I've heard the 264895982743893 Seconds song everyday of existence) and only just started the Twilight series.

Speaking of which, I would have looooved Twilight as a 13-year-old. It's not a bad read now, but her writing style can be super distracting. Like, stop describing how hot he is already. Sheesh.

Amiyrah said...

lol i loved this post. I have a vampire "thing" and I enjoy the twilight series, but still think I am waaaaaaay too old to be reading it. I think it's more of the fact that I can be like Dr. Evil to my 14 year old sister and say "look! i'm hip! dukka dukka dukka dukka" and try to do the macarena. Man, now I feel even older.

P.S.- The title of the post was great, but if you would have said "tardy for the party" that would have just made my week. Pop culture reference for ya there...

Charlotte Prescott said...

I discovered cheesecake relatively late in life. It's no coincidence that I married the man responsible for said discovery.

Melissa said...

"A life without Star Wars is a life without joy."

Agreed. I also love what you said about Cartoon Network. My husband and I pine for the old days. A lot.

I can't think of another personal example, but this post reminded me of a friend who watched The Princess Bride for the first time at 26 and was baffled why the rest of us liked it so much. Sadness!

P.S. The dip - Giada does one just like this, but I make her toasted pita chips with oregano to go with it. Soooo good.

oilandgarlic said...

I love the white bean dip because the idea of making hummus seems more difficult somehow!

As for late in the game, I saw Before Sunrise in my 30s and thought they were a pretentious couple. I did appreciate Before Sunset, the sequel, because I could relate to it much more.

Also too late for both Catcher in the Rye and On The Road -- I just thought grow up already!

I did appreciate "My so-called life" even though I was already closer to Angela's parents' ages than to her.