My life is filled with such beloved noise. The chatter of my children waking us up as we work-logged parents blearily look out from underneath the duvet covers in the morning. My eldest’s endless questions, with the length and breadth and absolute randomness in questioning that only a five-year-old can have. The increasing decibels of my youngest as he strains to make us understand his fledgling words. Their shrieks of total joy as they chase each other around the dining room table. “Gangnam Style” playing much too loudly on the computer from an awful dancing game that they refuse to stop using. My husband’s familiar whistle to signal that he is home. The ruckus the kids make when their papa arrives. The dramatic wails of my little girl for what she perceives as travesties committed by her little brother. My little boy’s angry shouts which is his only way to assert himself in quarrels with his big sister. All the laughter, the tears, the shouts, the giggles, the fights, the whispered lullabies. They fill my days with a glorious cacophony, a riotous soundtrack, like a blanket that I wrap around myself. One that makes me happy, even during the times when it makes me want to turn the volume down a bit.
Despite a heart full to bursting, and ears which marvel at and greedily savor this animated symphony, I get into my car with an audible sigh. Was that a sigh of relief? I feel a twinge of guilt. But there is something, something oddly thrilling, now that I am a mother (of two), about getting into a car by myself. The low thrum of the engine, the soft hiss of the air conditioner, the silence…like a vacuum. I don’t even turn on the radio. I just drive and let the silence envelope me, calm me, lull me. I can actually hear my thoughts…clear like bells. I could be anyone, someone glamorous with “secrets”, heading off to some mysterious rendezvous. I could be someone much more elegant, someone who doesn’t forget her earrings on her desk when rushing out of the house, car keys in one hand, grocery list in the other. And even if I am in this trafficked city, when I am alone in the car it is like the freedom of the open road. I lean back in my seat and put my shades on with as much panache as I can muster. Mystery woman.
And then, all too soon, or no never soon enough, I am back home, sticky children climbing my limbs as I sink my nose deep into their hair and sniff like I could just inhale the whole of them. I laugh and hold them a little too tight. I nestle myself into my noisy household, trying to organize what I can, reminding myself that it’s ok if things don’t get 100% tidy, stopping here and there to get a nibble from one of my little ones’ soft arms.
Motherhood…will I ever understand you?? I guess you are one of those things that need to be lived, not understood.
So here’s a salad that is very simple. For when life is not.
- Juice from one lemon
- 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced very finely or put through a garlic press
- 1/2 teaspoon pimenton de La Vera
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 cup/150 grams cooked and sliced octopus
- 1 400-gram can chickpeas, drained
- 3-4 sprigs parsley, leaves picked and chopped
– Place the lemon juice, oil, garlic, pimenton, and some salt and pepper in a bowl big enough to fit all your ingredients. Whisk together and taste. Adjust seasoning as needed until you are happy with your dressing, keeping in mind that it will tone down when you add the other ingredients.
– Add the octopus, chickpeas, and parsley and toss gently until everything is fully combined and coated in the dressing. Give it a taste and do final seasoning adjustments if needed.
– Serve warm, at room temp, or even cold.
I have never prepared octopus myself, so I buy it already cooked and tenderized (and sliced, I am ashamed to admit!). If you have access to fresh octopus, and do know how to prepare it, then I commend you. This will make enough for about four people, if you are having it as part of a meal, although it does make a nice lunch all by itself with leftovers for the next day. I eat it as is, but I imagine it would also be good atop a bed of greens (if you wanted more greens in your salad), or tucked into a pita bread. And although I wouldn’t say this is a Spanish dish (I’m calling it “pulpo y garbanzos”) it does have Spanish flavors, so it would be nice as part of some kind of Spanish-themed tapas spread.
As I type, I can once again hear the little voices of my children, wide awake and already full of questions and early morning ideas. Their little minds so fertile and alert, not needing a blistering shower and coffee to switch on like their old mama’s does. And I am content. With a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. And when (or if) I need to “unplug”, a few moments to collect my thoughts and let a little wind through my hair (figuratively — my city is filled with exhaust and dust), there’s always an errand to do and a car to do it in.