The Green Goddess and Never Let Me Go

The Connection. Despite being tasty, this is an extraordinarily healthy dish. You have delicious, lean, tofu-y protein (okay, it’s better if you don’t fry it, but still); kale and broccoli, both packed with vitamins A, C, and K, folate, iron, calcium; avocado; and garlic, which nutritional lore basically considers a panacea. Eating isn’t mentioned once in Never Let Me Go, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the main characters only eat extremely healthy foods. As should we, but for different reasons.

Green Goddess with Miso and Garlic

½  bunch kale, chopped
1 head of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 package of tofu, extra firm
1 ripe avocado, sliced, lightly salted
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup short-grain brown rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons white miso paste
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/4 cup neutral oil (like peanut oil)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Fresh black pepper and sea salt

Cook rice according to the instructions on the package. I usually add a pinch or two of salt and just a touch less water than is called for. When the water is entirely absorbed, remove from heat and keep the lid on for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Cube the tofu into half inch squares and salt. Let stand for 15 minuntes, then blot dry.

While the salt is drawing moisture out of the tofu, puree together the garlic, miso, sesame oil, cooking oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Adjust lemon, salt, and pepper to taste—it doesn’t need much salt and pepper.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute, add 1 tablespoon oil, heat for another minute, then add the tofu. The trick, of course, is not to touch the tofu until it’s golden brown. It will stick like crazy at first, but just walk away for 2–3 minutes. Then come back and, when the tofu has basically stopped sticking (which will happen, I promise), carefully but forcefully stir it up with a spatula. Walk away and repeat several times until it’s crispy and delicious looking all over. Some people take to frying naturally, but I have had a very slow learning curve. Remember, just walk away.

Set the tofu aside, turn the heat down to medium, and add the broccoli. Cook just a few seconds before adding the kale. (The kale might have to be added in a separate batch depending on how big your pan is.) If you have a lid, add a splash of water and cover to steam the vegetables a little. Be careful not to overcook, especially the kale—it just needs a few seconds. Remove from heat right when everything is turning a bright emerald green.

Spoon the brown rice into a large bowl. Toss the kale, broccoli, tofu, and sauce together and pour everything over the rice. Top with avocado slices and toasted almond and serve. If you’re feeling ambitious, crown it with a poached egg. (Poached eggs may be all the rage right now, but there’s a reason for that—they’re scrumptious.)

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (304 pages) ♥♥♥♥

“I saw a new world coming rapidly. More scientific, efficient, yes. More cures for the old sicknesses. Very good. But a harsh, cruel, world. And I saw a little girl, her eyes tightly closed, holding to her breast the old kind world, one that she knew in her heart could not remain, and she was holding it and pleading, never to let her go.”

The Plot.Three friends attempt to grow and live meaningful lives under the constraints placed on them by a cruel, dystopic society.

Who should read it. Fans of dystopic alternate realities and conversational, intimate narratives. It’ll probably make you think, and it’ll definitely make you shudder.

Why I liked it. I read this book holed up in my room, sick and miserable with a cold. I didn’t have much else going on, so I blew through it in a day. On the plus side, it distracted me from the amount of Kleenex I was going through, but it also left me with a decidedly uncomfortable feeling of helplessness. On the whole, I’d wait to read it on a nice sunny afternoon, maybe on a warm beach with happy little clouds and silly, cranky seagulls.

Part of the book’s draw is how the main characters’ terrible fate slowly unfolds. Hints are dropped and references are made. The author makes no attempt to hide it, but he doesn’t come right out with it, either, allowing you to read most of the book in denial (almost). Cleverly done, this is exactly how the main characters come to understand and accept their own fate, and demonstrates how their society must treat the problem, quietly accepting it but always marginalizing it and pushing it to the sidelines.

The story raises the obvious questions associated with dystopias—how close are we to allowing a world like this to exist, and what parts of our society are teetering on the brink of it already? Classism, prejudice, and ethics are definitely discussed, but friendship, love, and growing up also play important roles.

Notes.

  • I thought the movie was good, especially the casting. It nailed the atmospheric, semi-nostalgic feeling of the book, although the action moved at a slow and kind of awkward pace for a movie.
  • The title comes from a fictional song mentioned in the book. The movie brings the song to life with remarkable attention to detail, creating a cassette complete down to the last detail.
  • The recipe is actually inspired by my favorite dish at a local hippie restaurant, Life Alive. It’s delicious, but the wait at the restaurant is criminal, so I decided to invent my own version. That being said, if you have an hour to kill, the food at Life Alive is great.
  • Also, a caveat: don’t make this dish (or eat at Life Alive) if you are going to interact with anyone else in the following 8 hours. The garlic intensity is…impressive.
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One thought on “The Green Goddess and Never Let Me Go

  1. Agreed wholeheartedly; <3<3<3 this book and dish. I cried during the movie (which rarely happens to me while reading, and somewhat more frequently while eating). Two green thumbs up.

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