Lettuce Give Thanks

flickr user Trinity
How do you spell relief?
Thanksgiving was an embarrassment of riches: a twenty-pound smoked turkey, Edna Lewis's Silken Turnip Soup, sausage stuffing (made with fluffy, discounted Essential Baking Company ciabatta from MacPherson's), collard greens with my favorite bacon (from Bob's Quality Meats in Columbia City), mashed potatoes Anna (recipe from the Essential New York Times Cookbook, featuring generous amounts of milk, cream, and butter), fresh cranberry sauce with plenty of Grand Marnier, all smothered in an ultra-rich gravy made from smokey turkey drippings, giblets, and shredded neck meat. Also: pecan pie and loved ones.

Then, there were three straight meals of leftovers and our family's post-Thanksgiving tradition: turkey noodle cabbage soup, made with a milky, rich turkey stock that simmers overnight. By the time yesterday rolled around, I was about as thankful as I could be without exploding, wondered briefly if my stomach had been permanently altered, and desperately needed a little relief.

At dinnertime, I went rooting around the fridge, strategically avoiding the top two shelves still laden with leftover-filled tupperware. I came across the tofu I had impulse-bought on Saturday night (perhaps in anticipation of this moment?), but even that seemed too heavy.

Salvation came in salad form. And a simple one at that. Just three ingredients: lettuce and carrots straight from our CSA box, plus a few slivers of onion. The dressing was just a squeeze of lemon, some salt and pepper, and the tiniest drizzle of olive oil. The lettuce leaves were small and crinkly, crisp yet startlingly tender and soft in the way that only butter lettuce is. They took quite nicely to slices of carrots, which, it occurred to me as I bit into them, seem to grow sweeter with each passing week.

Curious about the carrots, I went online to our farm's website and learned that they are a variety called Nelson. I also found this wonderful explanation of why they are so sweet:

"Cold temperatures...actually sweeten the root, because the survivalist in the carrot wisely takes all the sugars from the leaves above ground, and tucks them away underground to protect the carrot's longevity."

I imagine our bodies doing the same during the winter holidays: taking the sweetness of time spent together, then storing it away inside to be recalled at some later date when, in a difficult moment, we need it the most.

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