He's making noodles, she's slicing carrots and keeping the cat diverted, I'm plucking fresh mint from the yard and basil from the porch, trying to remember what temperature to cook sweet potato falafel at and finding where everything is. Everything works out except the mussels, but since one of us was vegetarian anyway, it's moot, and we feast, laugh, talk about cats and metal and art and bands we used to like, and reminisce and ponder, skating close to politics and pulling back to other territory.
The last time I remember the three of us being together was a night at the end of the semester when we converged on campus, about six or seven of us ended up converging at a picnic table for dinner,went to watch the Black Keys play (they were starting to get big then, but nowhere near what they are now), and then hung out at the playground on the swings as night fell.
Nine years later, I'm not in touch with half those people anymore, or we don't see much of each other or have much to say when we do. I'm not who I was then in some ways, neither is anyone else, and I'm wary of any kind of attempt to capture the magic of the hazily remembered good old days, but it seems we've gotten older and wiser, and we've got new things happening, new interests besides graduating and finding bands to listen to, and I'm thankful that our worlds still overlap and that there's still something there besides nostalgia, that we can still share meals and thoughts and continue to age gracefully and see how far we've come.
Also, sweet potato falafel is the good stuff...
Baked Sweet Potato Falafel
Makes about 18 falafel, more or less
2 medium sweet potatoes (yams), around 700g or 1 1/2 pounds in total
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 small cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Juice of half a lemon
1 cup (120g) chickpea flour
a few tablespoons sesame seeds, for sprinkling
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place whole sweet potatoes directly on oven rack for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until just tender. Once removed from the oven, let them cool until manageable. Peel and discard skins–they should come off easily.
Mash together the cooled and peeled sweet potatoes, cumin, garlic, coriander, cilantro (if using), lemon juice and chickpea flour into a large bowl. Season for salt and pepper. Once well mashed with no large chunks remaining, stick in the fridge to firm up for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes. At this point, your mix should be sticky-smooth rather than wet. If necessary, add a tablespoon or more of chickpea flour (this varies depending on the water content of the sweet potatoes).
While chilling, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and oil a baking sheet (I used parchment paper but would go without it next time in order to develop a golden crust on the bottom). Using a couple of large spoons, scoop up a mound of the falafel mixture and shape it back and forth between the concave sides of the spoons to form a football-like shape. Press sesame seeds along the outside of the falafel and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake in the oven for around 17 minutes, until the bases are golden brown.