This is a cautionary tale told to warn you about the dangers of shopping without your reading glasses. It is dark and scary! (Not really!) If you are blessed with 20/20 vision or are under the age of 40, you may just want to skip the first part of this post. Otherwise, you will be shaking your head and wondering what this crazy old lady is rambling on about.
Growing up, I had always had perfect vision. My dad was an optometrist and of course, I always wanted to wear glasses. I would go to his office and try on different frames, imagining the various personalities that went with each pair. When I turned 40, I noticed that I could no longer read the directions on the back of over-the-counter medicines. Just a word to the wise, do not assume that the package says Tylenol nighttime when your kids wake up sick in the middle of the night. Without my glasses on I was never quite sure if I was giving them nighttime or daytime. If I accidentally gave them the daytime, it became quite obvious within 20 minutes of swallowing the medicine, and I would pay the price for my deteriorating vision.
Eventually, I did go see an optometrist. The beginning of my failing eyesight coincided with my dad’s death. It felt so disloyal to visit another optometrist, that I put it off for as long as I could. When I finally went, I was prescribed mild reading glasses and he told me I could just get by with a drugstore pair. Not a chance! I spent the better part of the afternoon at his office, trying on almost every pair of frames in his office, driving the poor assistant there crazy, I’m sure. I chose a racy red pair of reading glasses that I was convinced portrayed me as intelligent, creative, slightly quirky and someone with who is comfortable in her own skin and does not worry about what others think. A lot to ask from one pair of glasses, to be sure! I really only needed them for very small print, but I pulled them on at every opportunity.
Fast forward several years and with each passing year, my vision has continued to spiral downward. My optometrist has assured me that it’s a normal part of aging. However, I now need my glasses to read everything. I have my Blackberry set at the biggest font size, and I still need my glasses to read e-mails and texts. Yes, I still have a Blackberry! I like to think that it was Blackberry that taught the world to type with their thumbs. Way to go Canadian innovators. I have tried the iPhone but I can not seem to get the hang of that touch screen. I am all thumbs when it comes to using it. Yet, I digress, sorry about that!
I now have about 12 pairs of reading glasses scattered throughout the house, in my car and in my purse. I find it such a pain to have to put them on to read a recipe, take them off to cook or take pictures of what I am cooking. I am forever lamenting that I can’t find my glasses. My daughter really wants me to buy one of those chains you put around your neck to hold the glasses, so you don’t lose them. I have managed to hold off so far, because, really, they just announce that you are a woman of a certain age, and I’m just not ready to be that woman yet. So until Marni or Miu Miu come up with a chain that conveys to everyone that I am intelligent, creative and slightly quirky, I will pass.
Last week I was at the supermarket, wandering up the grains and rice aisle, when I spotted a beautiful box. I picked it up and the bright yellow large font announced itself to be Tuxedo Orzo. Pretty little grains of black and white orzo. I had to buy a box and make something fantastic with it. I never read the fine print on the box because I couldn’t be bothered to take out my glasses.
When I got home I rummaged through the fridge and pantry and began creating a Tuxedo Orzo Salad.
The contrasting textures and tastes in this salad are fantastic. The grains of orzo are slightly chewy, the pine nuts are crunchy and the buffalo mozzarella is creamy. The sweetness of the corn and peas play off so well against the bitter arugula. Bathed in a fresh lemon-garlic olive oil dressing, this salad is addictive. I made it for my family and the huge bowl disappeared very quickly.
The following week, my girlfriends were visiting at the cottage and I made the salad a second time for them for lunch. As we were inhaling the salad and oohing and aahing over the pretty black and white grains of orzo, one friend asked how they made the orzo black. I pulled out the box and slipped on my reading glasses and was horrified to discover that it was dyed with cuttlefish ink. We keep a kosher home and cuttlefish is a member of the squid family and is definitely not kosher. Oops!
I will certainly be making this salad again, but with white orzo only! It is a great salad to use up all the little odds and ends you have in the fridge and pantry. I think it would be wonderful with almonds, asparagus and parmesan in the spring or cooked butternut squash, hazelnuts and diced apples in the fall.