Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On Having Style, and Mediterranean Style Spaghetti Squash

Have you ever met anyone who can't hold a tune?

I happen to be married to one of those people, and I gave birth to another.  This came as some surprise to me, because I've been singing as long as I can remember, in more and less formal groups, and I never imagined that I'd have a child who can't sing.  (Which is not to say that she doesn't LIKE to sing.  She does, as loudly as we let her. Preferably "Let It Go" from Frozen.)

Neither husband nor child is tone-deaf; that term is reserved for the 10% of the population who really can't hear the difference between different tones (sort of like severe color-blindness), and as a result, often don't even like music because they can't tell what makes it special to everyone else.  They are what is referred to as "pitch challenged": they can hear pitch, but can't reproduce it.

I was thinking about this distinction the other day, rifling through my closet, wondering if I'd ever be able to teach myself style.

It's a lot like being pitch-challenged.  I know good style when I see it.  I can look in a J.Jill catalogue or a Pottery Barn catalogue, and think, yes, that's how I'd like to look, or how I'd like my kitchen/dining room/living room/whatever to look.  I can admire the elegance and coziness of other people's houses, or the drape of a high quality fabric on all sorts of body types.  But I feel like applying the principles of style I can observe and even describe is an entirely different matter.  In this case, I have semi-relative pitch, but it's not quite right.

Lots of things work this way, don't they?  People who know what good food tastes like, but can't manage to cook.  People who can appreciate fine art, but can't produce it (that's most of us, isn't it?).

I guess if I'm going to be saddled with any particular challenge, style isn't so bad.  I just need a personal shopper.  Or to come to terms with the fact that I'm going to end up au naturel whether I want to or not.

What's your challenge?  What can you recognize in others, but have difficulty replicating in yourself, even when you're making an effort to do so?  Style?  Pitch?  Something else entirely? 

Roasted Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash
This dish has no style.  At all.  It's not even remotely photogenic.  But it does taste pretty good.

1 spaghetti squash
1 T. + 2 t. olive oil
1 clove garlic
14 oz. can chickpeas
1/2 c. crushed tomatoes in puree
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted lightly
1/4 c. feta
handful of spinach

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with alumnium foil.  Halve squash, scoop out seeds, and brush lightly with 1 T. olive oil.  Place cut side down on prepared baking sheet and roast until browned on top and soft, about 45-55 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.

While the squash is cooling, heat the remaining 2 t. olive oil in a small saucepan.  Add garlic, saute until fragrant, and add crushed tomatoes, stirring until just warm. Add chickpeas and stir until warm.

Using a fork, remove the meat from the skin of the squash.  As you tug at it, it should come apart in strands, like spaghetti.

Toss squash with sauce, chickpeas, almonds, spinach, and feta, until spinach is just wilted.  Serve warm.
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  1. Oh, I can so relate to the style thing. I often say I wish there were Garanimals for adults. I guess with personal shoppers and Stitch Fix, there basically is, but I'm holding out for the day I can open my closet and something or one hands me the perfect outfit. Too much to ask for?

  2. Clothes I can do, but hair/makeup--forget it. Also anything artsy or style-y for the home. I just...have no idea. None. I need a decorator but can't fathom paying the money.

  3. Not that I'm the most stylish person ever, but this IS why you have friends. I won't let you go out looking crazy, I promise. And in fact, you under estimate your capabilities. I trust you'll keep me in check too.


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