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The Fly and Cold Orzo Salad

February 25, 2010
Deandra, Sunny, Carolyn

Me between my cousins Deandra and Carolyn thinking, "See what you made me do?"

Something about New Orleans summons invitations from anyone to go anywhere. They just float around in the air. This could be dangerous. Or fun. Or both. On a 75 degree Saturday this past weekend, a friend of a friend invited a few of us to a friend of a friend’s birthday party at the Fly. The Fly? I had gotten a text from Sarah just 15 minutes earlier: “See you at the Fly!” to which I responded, “Mike doesn’t know what the Fly is,” although it was me who was Fly-ignorant. I’ve been a blamer since I was little. My mother has reminded me several times of my most frequently asked question: “See what you made me do?” Look at me. Even as a child I had the face of a blamer.

Sarah and Lucius

Sarah and Lucius at the Fly

I was heading out my door to ride my bike the couple blocks to the park to hopefully discover friends before anyone discovered I didn’t know where I was going. On the ride through Audubon Park, my friend Mike and I ran across Sarah and Lucius on their bikes. We followed them through the park until we got to the Mississippi River, and rode through a large patch of grass along the levee until we found a group of people who looked familiar. They were cooking sausages, serving keg beer in red cups, and making paper bag masks for the Aints Second-line Funeral Parade that afternoon. Someone was having a birthday. Lots of people had dogs. Big dogs, little dogs. One little dog kept hiding under our pile of bikes. Animals aren’t so good at hiding. My cat Lloyd will hide under a blanket. And by hide, I mean she sticks her head under the blanket. Not smart.

Freighter

Freighter sailing by at the Fly

One of the coolest things about lounging on the grass by the river is watching the huge freighters go by. Another cool thing, according to my companions, is watching hot girls in white pants go by.

While we were at the Fly soaking up the February sun, Sarah got a call from apartment dwelling friends who wanted to have a party that night. At Sarah’s house. This is what I mean by invitations flowing in all directions. I followed suit. I invited Daniel and Jennifer. I ran into my friend Thomas on the way to Sarah’s on my bike and invited him too. Their neighbors from the Irish Channel came. Lucius’ med school buddies showed up. Dogs named Bourbon and George showed up too and had a friendly dog fight in the living room while we listened to Saints victory music on repeat.

By the time the steaks were grilled and Mike and I had competed in our Orzo Salad-Off (we’re both highly competitive and like to have food-offs), there were 15 people gathered around the television watching the second half of the Super Bowl game for the second time, or seventh time in Lucius’ case, cheering just as loudly as we had cheered when the game was broadcast for the first time. While the rest of the guests were still basking in the glory of the Super Bowl win, I was basking in my self-proclaimed victory of the orzo-off. Here is the recipe-ish. Read below and you’ll see what I mean by recipe-ish.

Orzo

Orzo: Baby Pasta

Cold Orzo Salad

Orzo is really cute pasta. It’s tiny. It look like swollen rice, sort of.

Orzo. Cook it, drain the water, and add some soft cheese like goat or feta. Stir in the cheese when the orzo is hot so it coats the pasta. Add some olive oil so the pasta doesn’t stick together. While the orzo is cooking, slice some cherry tomatoes in half. Add some fresh corn that you hack off the cobb. Or canned corn, but fresh is way better. Mince or press a couple cloves of garlic. Mince some shallot. Add whatever fresh herbs you have in your fridge, like thyme or parsley. Add more olive oil and maybe some balsamic and lemon juice and/or zest to the mixture. Fresh ground pepper, sea salt. Combine this with the orzo and refrigerate until cold. Overnight is great, but a couple hours will do if you don’t have time to let it all meld together.

I don’t really like specific recipes for anything. I just add stuff until it tastes good, and I like to cook with what’s in the fridge. I encourage this kind of cooking because you can wow your guests for making something amazing without a recipe, and you can learn very quickly what doesn’t work together. For instance, don’t add a can of Michelob Ultra to spicy ham and beans. Does. Not. Work.

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