Reader, you are looking at the best meal I’ve eaten all year. I’ve said before that the company you keep while eating makes a big difference, and the atmosphere does as well. A few weekends ago my friends Jeff & Eva invited me out to join them at their summer rental on Fire Island. I had never been there before, and was not prepared for how quiet, isolated, and relaxing the day was. I had picked up some eggplant and some summer squash from the farmer’s market on the way out there, and we grilled them up with some olive oil and sea salt for lunch.
Eva made couscous, and it was incredible. As the couscous steamed, she chopped up dome fresh tomatoes and salted them so that they would start to exude liquid. When the couscous had absorbed all of the liquid but was still warm, she mixed in some feta cheese. This simple step is so brilliant that I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. The warmth of the couscous melts the cheese, and the tangy, milky goodness permeates every grain. Then she added the tomatoes, some salt, and some fresh chopped mint from the box just outside the window. A squeeze of fresh lime brightened the whole thing up.
Sitting on the deck of their house, with nothing but the sound of the ocean to distract us, we sat down to eat. A spoon of that couscous, topped with the grilled veggies, and chunks of cold roasted beets on the side… Who knew such simple things could give such profound pleasure? Just look at how relaxed I was.