27 January 2011
Winter at the Sacre Coeur and Endive, Blue Cheese, Pomegranate Salad
Everyone I know in Paris is tired right now, the have-to-drag-oneself-out-of-bed-in-the-morning kind of tired. Usually this is a February attitude, but it seems to have come a bit early this year. I blame this sort of lagging gloom on the lack of sunlight. A few bright rays on our faces would do all of us a world of good. It's no coincidence that my doctor gives everyone a prescription for vitamin D in the winter, no matter what you go see her for.
But besides vitamin D, what to do for the gray-sky doldrums? The best cure I know for dreariness is to go on a search for beauty. (Tea over at Tea and Cookies puts this into practice regularly in her series Stalking Wonder.) So, I decided if it was going to be gray all winter, then I had better start looking for the beauty in gray skies.
As Dorothy Gale from Kansas says, "if I ever go looking for my heart's desire, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with." So my camera and I set out to find beauty in our own backyard (so to speak - I don't have a back yard, so I'm counting Montmartre).
The Sacre Coeur is probably my favorite monument in Paris. I go by it pretty much every day, and every day it seems different. I swear it changes with the weather. When it's sunny and the sky is blue, it seems to shine out white and proud. These days, it's as sober as the sky, imposing, dark and full of secrets.
I came up the back way and strolled in the park behind the church, which in the summer is full of old people sitting in the shade of the wisteria, young people tanning on the grass, and children playing in the fountain. Today it was deserted. There's something very restful about an empty park, and its sleeping trees. I even found a tiny bit of winter color.
When I was done soaking that in, I followed the sound of a horse drawn carriage to the front of the Sacre Coeur. Really, I'm not kidding. I thought I was hearing things, and when I caught up with it and found it was being driven by a man dressed in bear suit, I thought I was seeing things. I'm sorry I didn't get a picture. The front of the Sacre Coeur is always overrun with tourists, no matter what the season and it was a bit of a shock after the emptiness of the back streets, but there is an amazing view of Paris. Gray, winter-y Paris.
Of course, the other way to combat the winter doldrums is to eat colorful food. You can even pretend its summer and have festive salads, which is what I did when I got home. This endive-pomegranate-blue cheese salad was just perfect for a mood-lifter. I think pomegranate seeds are just perfect for winter salads, not only for their red color and bursting sweet taste, but also because you can pretend you're Persephone thanks to whose love of pomegranate seeds (according to the ancient Greeks), we got into all this winter trouble in the first place!
Ingredients (approx per person):
1 large or 2 small endives
2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
1 Tbsp blue cheese
2 strips of bacon, fried until crispy (you can leave this out if you're vegetarian, but if you're not, it adds a nice smoky flavor that I highly recommend)
your favorite vinaigrette
Mix it all together in the proportions you like best and enjoy while contemplating the beauty of gray!