Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hatch of the day...

The jungle seethes with life. Plants grow rapidly, clambering over one another, competing for light, nutrients, moisture. Grazers eat this bounty, and in turn get eaten. That’s life! While things may appear to be in a stable equilibrium, that’s hardly the case. Life not only seethes, it surges and pulses. Remember the lynx and the hare (from your high school biology class)? Predator and prey populations crescendo and crash. Natural selection favors the unpredictable, making it difficult for predators to set their alarms for meal times. One strategy is to burst on the scene in vast numbers, sating predators while allowing plenty of survivors to reproduce, securing a place in the next generation.

Last night there were insects. (OK; there are always insects, especially at night, little moths attracted to the light.) But these were unexpected visitors, just last night. Little black ones (sorry entomologists out there, I know I should try harder, at least ID to Family, but it’s after hours!). Drawn to my candles and kitchen light, they were everywhere, perversely having timed their arrival for the day I had the house cleaned! Sometimes they’d land on you. They don’t sting or claw or bite; just a bit of a tickle. You ignore them until they bug you enough, then flick them off—they don’t come back like annoying flies. They’re just as likely to land on the cutting board while you’re chopping. Or on your plate while you’re chomping. Anyway, they’re hard to see, especially because you dim the lights to minimize the onslaught.

So there are insects in my food. It might have been better to prepare the meal in daylight, dodging the hatch. But you don’t know they’re coming until it’s too late. (That’s their strategy, right? Burst on the scene unexpected and unannounced…) Will they be back tomorrow? Will I bother with early prep in anticipation? Anyway, dinner was delicious: Ensalata Caprese with fresh mozzarella from the cloud forest zone dairies of Monteverde, a gorgeous red ripe tomato from the farmer’s market, and fresh-picked basil from the garden; drizzled with olive oil and balsamic, accompanied by fresh whole wheat walnut bread, all rinsed down with a fine glass of Chilean Cabernet. Yum. Bugs and all!

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