Food Friday–and musings on this week’s news

It’s really hot out. That means that I tend to cook food that comes from hot weather counties.

 

This pilaf got cooked in the oven at the same time as the chicken. The chicken, since you asked was made with lots of black pepper and pomegranate molasses.

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This vaguely middle eastern spiced stewed eggplant cooks up quickly on the stove top.

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Summer time is also the right time for marinated vegetables.

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The multi-colored vegetables happily living in the same bowl are going to serve as my slightly stilted segue to the Zimmerman  verdict.

My kids were fortunate enough to attend PS 75 here on the Upper West Side. One of the the things that is truly special about the school is that unlike many other public elementary schools in New York it is truly economically and racially diverse. The school population includes both kids who live in Riverside Drive penthouses as well as kids who live in the projects.  I would guess that the school is about  1/3 white, 1/3 black and 1/3 Hispanic. It was a great school for each of my kids.

The school changed me as well.  Before I sent my kids there, when I used to pass groups of adolescent black kids on the street I used to get a little guarded. Now as I pass boisterous groups of black adolescents on the street I look at their faces, because they might be former classmate of my kids. What I see now is not something to be feared…but kids being kids.

 

I learned there that kids who looked and sounded the toughest were often deeply sweet. I learned that loud is not the same thing as dangerous.

During the summer my husband and I often do the twilight lap swim at Lasker Pool which is at the northern end of Central Park. One summer evening I had gone swimming without my husband. It was towards the end of the summer and by the time I left the pool it was pretty dark out.

Some of the paths between the pool and my house are beautiful, meandering through the woods, but are also fairly isolated. It was dark. I was a woman walking alone and I was feeling a little anxious and vulnerable.

As I walked home ( thinking that maybe I had done something really stupid) I passed a young black man who was probably in his mid 20’s. Like any New Yorker I was doing that calculation of “How nervous do I need to be right now, and what do I need to do if this situation gets complicated?”  The man passing me then said the thing that turned my anxiety meter down to zero. He said , “ Good evening, Mam.”. I grinned at him and said “Good evening.”,   back at him.

 

As I continued my walk home this exact exchange of good evenings took place another two or three times . I was grateful to those men for saying the “ I’m not out to bother you “,  Central Park at night password. I don’t know if white young men of the same age would have known that a middle aged woman walking through the park at dusk would have needed that reassurance of, “ I’m just walking here, not out to bother you.”

For me that evening it wasn't color that made me nervous but guys up to no good. I was saddened, touched and grateful to the men who in one greeting let me know that they were just out for a walk.

 

I am grateful that being a New York City public school parent has taught me to learn to really  look at the faces of all of the people I pass on the street and to look past stereotype and really look at their faces. There is no “other “ here. It’s all “us”.

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