I’ve long known that I’ve suffered from esprit d'escalier, or what is roughly translated from the French as “staircase mind.” The condition refers to failure to come up with a witty reply in a timely manner. Imagine you are at the top of a staircase. Your adversary is at the bottom. You both start walking and pass in the middle, where he insults you. Your mind goes blank and you each continue on your way. Only when you are at the bottom and he is at the top do you think of anything clever to say. Then, it is too late. He is too far away.
I’ve also known the emotional corollary, such as only realizing I loved someone after they left. And of course there must be a financial version of it, too: who amongst us these days doesn’t wish they had thought of selling their stock a year ago? To the list, I now add, a culinary version.
In the confusing chaos of Sunday night’s dinner, I overlooked what Santa Maria was up to at the table. She later told me that she combined the squid with a potato salad I had made. I should have paid closer attention— I just used some leftovers to do the same thing, and discovered that it is an amazingly delicious combination.
I make my potato salad with nothing more than salt, pepper, scallions, parsley, and olive oil. It is a light and fresh combination. I’ve already established just how light and fresh the squid is when it’s cooked without any dressing. Put the two together, and it’s brilliant. The scallions have a light crunch. The parsley is refreshing and clean. The squid is salty and slightly crispy on its edge. All the pieces work together. Now if only I had thought of making it the other night.
- four baking potatoes
- three scallions
- parsley to taste, washed and chopped
- one pound squid, cleaned and cut into rings
- sea salt
- olive oil
- two cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
In a pot of water, boil the potatoes until they a fork can be inserted in them with ease.
Cool the potatoes and cut into cubes.
Trim and finely chop the scallions into tiny circles.
Combine the potatoes with scallions and enough olive oil and salt to taste.
Heat a cast-iron frying pan until it is smoking.
Add olive oil to the pans.
Rub the garlic in the oil and remove once it starts to brown.
Toss some sea salt into the pan.
Add the squid in one layer; work in small batches.
Leave it spread out until it starts to brown.
Flip or otherwise stir the squid to cook the other side (the whole time is just a few minutes)
Cool the squid and combine it with the potatoes.
Note: I suspect this would also be good with some lemon juice, but I haven't tried that yet.