This dish is my ultimate comfort food. Like all good recipes, it has a history.
During my days with the Student Environmental Action Coalition a few years back, my comrade Markio and I planned a field organizing trip visiting 8 different schools, without having access to a car. The first commandment of student organizing: make lofty, ridiculous plans with no means of implementation.
Our strategy: hop a Greyhound to Cincinnati and beg my mom until she let me use her old Dodge Caravan, a relic of her band mom era. The second commandment of student organizing: when in need, mooch off your parents.
Needless to say, it did not go over well. She refused to let me use her car and my life was over. We had an epic 24 hour screaming match. Not letting me use her car turned into not supporting my activism turned into not loving me for who I am, blah blah. From her perspective, I was a sponge, ungrateful, presumptuous, blah blah. It was one of the worst fight we ever had. And we've fought a lot.
My dad, ever the good guy, felt terrible about the whole ordeal. At 6am, before driving me to the rental car agency at the airport [only to discover that being under 25 made it impossibly expensive] he made me a huge breakfast. I couldn't really stomach the 'iggit el badounis or the strawberry yogurt parfait because I was so upset. It was so sweet of him to do, but it all tasted like cardboard, a terribly unusual phenomena for me. The best I could muster was mushing it all together with my fork to make it seem like I was enjoying them.
But I feasted on these soft, spicy greens with great enthusiasm. They calmed me down, mellowed me out. I ate three, maybe four servings. The nerves left my stomach and I was able to think us out of our predicament.
The moral of this story is not that my mom sucks and my dad rocks. The moral of this story is that your parents love you so you should love them back.
The fact that I made this yesterday has nothing to do with the state of my mental health. I just happened to have a bag of spinach in my fridge that had two days left, max, and some beautiful, waxy cayenne chilies, fresh from Hanako's friend's garden.
I'm certain my dad used Serrano peppers, but I was working with what I had. I used three peppers for one big bunch of spinach and I wish I used two. I also used too much oil...good olive oil is potent stuff and should be used sparingly.
Wilted spinach with fresh cayenne
1 bunch unwashed spinach [not the stuff in plastic bag]
2 fresh cayenne peppers
1tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
Mash garlic with a bit of salt. Saute in olive oil. Chop peppers into largish chunks, and saute with garlic. Turn heat down and let cook slowly for 30 minutes.
Get out another pan to wilt your spinach. To wilt spinach, wash the spinach leaves gently in cold water. You don't need to add water to the pan as the water clinging to the spinach is enough. Put the spinach in the pan and turn on the heat to high and shake the pan until the spinach has wilted.
Add the spinach to the peppers and saute for a few minutes. Put in bowl and toss with a bit of lemon and salt.