"I can't find my glasses."
"Pray to St. Anthony."
"I think it's St. Jude."
"It's not St. Jude. St. Jude is for selling your house."
"That's St. Joseph. Upside down. Buried in the front lawn."
"No, it's St. Jude that's upside down. You put a holy card upside down and light a candle. He's upside down because you don't want him to be comfortable."
"Maybe it's St. Lucy."
"That's eating octopus eyes cooked in milk."
"Nobody eats octopus eyes cooked in milk."
"You do. If you want to find your glasses."
Straight out, I'm going to tell you I'm not a religious person. I had plenty of that when I was a kid, and it cured me for life. But there's something about this saint stuff that works. I could tell you stories. And I'm a realist. Why would I walk away from something that works, just because it sounds stupid?
The glasses were found, maybe just because we were TALKING about saints. Probably we would've found them anyway. But we'll never know, will we?
The santeria of my grandparents was complicated and precise, but I don't think anybody remembers it exactly any more. The great revelation is that it doesn't matter. Any saint will do. Try it. You'll be amazed.
Which brings me to the subject of vegetables.
My father-in-law, the restaurateur, once told me that EVERYTHING tastes good if you cook it in olive oil, garlic, and salt. He was exaggerating. But not much.
I remember loathing vegetables as a child. My Sicilian grandmother was allergic to garlic (I know, right?), and so my mother never cooked with it and my father, being from Oklahoma, was more than a little suspicious. Ever have canned green beans? Welcome to my childhood.
I had to marry into a garlic family. And I've never looked back.
The connection between the saints and the holy trinity of garlic/olive oil/salt is simply this: it applies to everything. Here's the basic recipe:
Wash, trim if necessary, and dry or drain your vegetables. If you're making green beans, artichoke hearts, brussel sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower, throw them in some salted, boiling water first, until they're tender. Heat up some olive oil in a big-ass skillet. Put in some chopped garlic. When the garlic is just starting to brown, throw in your vegetables (make sure they're reasonably dry before you do this). Sprinkle with some salt. Saute until the vegetables are heated through and a little brown. The time varies, depending on your vegetables. Spinach cooks fast, green peppers cooks slow.
How much oil, how much garlic, how much salt? To taste, my darlings. It's a sure way of finding your soulmate.
The recipe applies to:
Kale (I suppose)
Peppers (any color)
And a whole bunch more I'm not even thinking about right now. This is the basic recipe. You can add walnuts, pine nuts, black pepper, spices, onions. Use your imagination.
And thank St. Anthony you found me.