Thursday, July 17, 2008

Summer Supper: Polenta, Spiced Black Beans with Sauteed Poblano, and Tomato and Corn Salad

It is so hot here in DC that the usually surly population has officially gone off the charts. In "only in Washington" fashion, I observed a character this week,  who I'll call "ridiculously hostile watermelon pusher man", or WP,  for short.  

I had seen him a few weeks prior, camped out on the same corner, a few blocks from DuPont Circle. He'd set up his shop of meanness outside of what was presumably his residence.  (Note: if you ever "work" where you live, try not to be a jerk. People know how to find you.)  The first time I saw him, I thought it had to be some sort of performance art.  Sadly, that was not the case.  

What was he peddling, in the 100 degree heat? Slices of cold watermelon.  Sounds refreshing, right?


WP's brilliant, and yet maniacal business plan, surely one not honed at Wharton, was to give the slices away. That's right, free of charge. Gratis.  Equipped with a blue cooler, lawn chair, and cardboard sign, WP set about trying to foist free produce on the unsuspecting masses.

But like all good city dwellers, the intended beneficiaries were highly suspicious.  Not many souls were brave enough to accept the free fruit. 

How did WP deal with this? By mocking and ridiculing anyone within earshot.  As in, "What the hell is wrong with people in this city?" "What, are you scared? You're scared, aren't you? Scaredy cat!" and, my favorite, "Don't be a loser, eat some freaking watermelon!"  

Further proof that the heat makes people crazy, and that no allegedly good deed goes unpunished. 

Good deed = no punishment; meanness = people avoid you. Think about it, WP.  

The heat has also resulted in me avoiding the oven, and even the stove, whenever possible.

Tonight's dinner was a simple combination of polenta, black beans, and tomatoes and corn.  I served it with a big spinach salad.  Perfectly summer. 

The recipes were so simple as to not really be worth mentioning.  For the polenta, I used a 50/50 mix of finely and coarsely ground corn, which I find to produce the best consistency.  The black beans were already prepared for me: I bought a can of seasoned beans.  To the beans, I added sauteed diced poblano and  few garlic cloves.  The corn and tomato salad featured fresh corn, cut off the cob, and San Marzano tomatoes.   San Marzano tomatoes are worth the extra cost-- they are so sweet, perfect with summer corn.  I added salt, pepper, sugar, and fresh basil.  

Very few of the ingredients had to be purchased; most were ingredients I had at home. Just a couple of seasonal ingredients can really make dinner special.

This concludes my Martha Stewart Moment for the day. Thank you. 


Lisa said...

This sounds like an ideal summer meal. I know what you mean about the heat. Much too hot to cook. I am also on my own here for the next two weeks and so have little inspiration to cook anything fancy.

blighter said...

That does sound like quite the perfect summer dinner.

The caveman in me (aka "all of me") thinks it could use a side of cold chicken prepared in a mexican style, but the modern cosmopolitan part of me (aka "face I present somewhat unsuccessfully to the world") thinks it's perfect as is.

blighter said...

Omigod! I totally forgot to mention watermelon man!

Are we sure that he lived in the city? Because anyone who lives in the city and thinks that other city-folk are going to willingly accept free food without thinking it's poisoned or worse is just plain crazy.

(What's worse than poisoned? Heck if I know but I don't want to find out, so I don't accept free food from strangers...)

It kind of reminds me of that scene in Clerks when Dante leaves the counter unattended with some loose change and a few dollars and a sign saying "Leave what you owe, be honest". His girlfriend asks him how he knows people will leave money and he tells her that when people see money out with a sign like that, they figure they're being watched.

It's these little axioms of life in modern civilization that sink into the background and are only noticed when someone exploits or ignores them.

John said...

Dear S.G. (minus the M)(MSG)-(M)+S,G,

Reading the ingredients, I conclude this is perfect "stay-cation" opportunity for us Americans hammered by gas prices, credit, mortgage and price of food. Turn up that oven, grow some tropical plants in the aqueducts of your dish rack, wear a snorkel and goggles when cooking, and embrace that swampy eastern heat. After All, DC is a drained swamp!