Extreme greens

Using topiary for good, Rose Bay

Walking the dog this morning, I spotted a car sticker on the back of an exhaust-belching, clapped-out 4WD. ‘STOP THE EXTREME GREENS,’ it hollered, and I couldn’t agree more – I’m so over headache lime and queasy emerald. Come back khaki and sage, I say, all is forgiven.

As my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, I couldn’t read the small print under that call to arms, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t mention fluoro runners, so I’m still pondering what is so extreme about a predilection for clean air and water, social justice, compassion and empathy, but hey, what would I know.

Best to stick to the greens I more or less understand, then, despite being increasingly baffled and buffeted (and I don’t mean that in a hotel-breakfast-bain-marie kind of way) by the plethora of contradictory opinion on what I should or shouldn’t consume. Most recently, I’ve been swayed (I am nothing if not easily led – just send me the link) by the alleged benefits of eating fermented foods including sauerkraut and kimchi – partly because it’s my job to keep abreast of these ‘food trends’ (such as they are, considering most of these comestibles have been consumed heroically since the dawn of time by hungry stoics without refrigeration – bet they’d have been the first to descend on Aldi’s biscuit section if they’d have had the choice).

Yesterday, I was brought to a screeching halt in my pursuit of non-bloating nirvana by the derisive snorts of Kate, a young (alarmingly healthy) nutritionist I know, who proceeded to inform me cheerily that any health- or digestion-enhancing probiotics in food are knocked out swiftly and efficiently by one’s own digestive juices. Our bodies will do what they will with whatever we shovel in our mouths, and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it, apparently. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr Yakult.

Kate is part of the vanguard of a revolution – one in which people eat food, goddammit, not food groups and, while I prefer to stand with my back to the wall and let revolutions of any kind rush past me until it’s safe to proceed, I’ll be more than happy to trail along in this one’s wake.

So, let’s eat.

Not for the faint of heart,
nor the colour-blind

The latest salad to grace our table – so good I made it twice in as many days – was this vision of green and gold, which, if I were so patriotically inclined, I might suggest as a splendid addition to your Australia/Invasion Day/TripleJ Hot 100 animal-protein incineration party. Or you can just eat the whole lot straight from the bowl standing at the kitchen counter while your partner sleeps in front of the cricket/tennis/Chelsea game.

Green and gold salad
Serves 2 – 4 depending on your ethical standpoint

1 cob of corn
1 lebanese cucumber
1 avocado
2 tablespoons of pickled jalapeños (from a jar – one of my current addictions/additions to almost everything I cook)
A generous handful of Sicilian green olives (pitted will save you time and irritability)
½ bunch coriander
1 lime

1. Cut the corn kernels away from the cob over a serving bowl. No need to cook it, unless you’re fussy about things like whether you’ll grow an extra eye if you don’t use organic. I haven’t so far (grown an extra eye, that is, or at least as far as I can tell).

2. Halve the cucumber lengthways, then use a teaspoon to scoop out and discard the seedy centre (not Kings Cross, as some might assume, though that, too, could benefit from being discarded right now). I love doing this – so satisfying – particularly as I have the most perfectly designed kitchen on the planet, courtesy of the multi-talented silver fox, in which the rubbish bin pulls out as a drawer from under my benchtop. Genius.

3. Now cut the cucumber lengthways into thin strips, then chop it all to buggery and add to the corn in the bowl.

4. Cut the avocado into smallish, stylish cubes and add them to the bowl.

5. Finely chop the pickled jalapeños and add them to the bowl. Bored yet?

6. If you’ve been stupid enough to buy unpitted olives, sullenly cut the flesh from the stones and add it to the bowl, or just halve the pitted ones, whistling at your good fortune.

7. Finely chop the coriander, stalks and all (but not the roots – save them for when you hand-pound your own curry paste with a pestle and mortar, which is never, so just throw them away – who are we kidding…). Scoop it all up and add it to the bowl.

8. Cut your lime into cheeks or just halve it, then squeeze half over the ingredients in the bowl. Now go and wash your hands well.

9. Use your newly pristine hands to gently toss everything together in the bowl, then taste a spoonful of the mixture. Turn the other lime cheek (or squeeze it, anyway) if you so desire.

10. Serve the salad on its own or with seafood, poultry or meat. But not with sauerkraut or kimchi.