“It’s ok, they might have guns but we have flowers,” the father explained to his son, as the young boy tried to wrap his mind around the violence that had consumed his city.
Flowers and candles. Flowers to fight fears and candles to remember the fallen. The father and son’s poetic exchange, captured on camera, went viral because the world needed flowers and light during such a dark tunnel.
Paris struck a chord with so many because so many of us have experienced the capitol’s charms. However, instead of token post cards or cinematic moments, we francophiles found ourselves retracing our past adventures through unimaginable, horrific news footage. Vicariously, we felt the threats so many feel daily, and as best we could, we conveyed our fears, our sympathies, and our allegiance to the beloved city.
It was easy to feel for Paris. In my own case, I spent six months wandering the city’s streets, immersing myself in the language and daily life. I debated the best baguette while reading Émile Zola. I documented my routes on a worn map while trying to emulate slang expressions. I sipped coffees while admiring the perfection of the street fashion. As cliche as it was, I felt like I belonged there, like I had found my city. Though I departed, bidding farewell as an accordion player serenaded the canal, I guarded that connection.
I have not read Arabic literature in Beirut. I have not dined with locals in Bamako. I have not sat in a cafe and admired the rich textiles and traditions of Nigerian cities. I may not have a personal history with these places, but that doesn’t mean I should close my heart to them. I have not given the victims in these cities the sympathies they deserve. I admittedly have furthered the desperation felt in those nations by not cherishing their living, but it’s a wrong I want to right.
I recently sat in the audience for a screening of the film (T)error (which I can’t recommend enough!). At the end of the film, a Muslim woman, in the traditional hijab, addressed the director. “Thank you for making this film. Thank you for sparking a dialogue. I love Allah. I am a Muslim, but those attackers are not Muslim. They do not represent me.” She expressed the fear she feels when her eight children leave home after, hearing a man on the news say he wanted to shoot the next Muslim he saw. “I am human, and I bleed just like you.”
Several audience members made their way to the woman as the crowd dispersed. “Thank you for your comments,” they said one by one, touching her gently on the shoulder or leaning in close to her. Like the flowers and candles in France, this woman’s bravery was beauty in the face of fear. Her vulnerability turned fear into power.
Thankfully, I haven’t experienced a terrorist attack firsthand, and I hope I never do. I wish no one ever would, but certain evils are prevailing. It may be easier for me to believe in flowers and candles from my safe distance, but how else can we advance positively? I choose to believe in beauty and empathy wholeheartedly, and I will pay more attention to the attacks the media slights.
If my time in France taught me one thing, it was to appreciate quality– quality of time, quality of friends, quality of wine and the quality of a good meal shared. France taught me to slow down, to savor, to debate, to exchange and to defend time honored traditions. These luxuries are not universal, and especially in America, we ought to acknowledge and share our great fortunes.
As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches for those of us in the United States, it’s an apt time to remember how America formed, how generosity and gratitude gathered around a table and celebrated differences. As Thanksgiving draws near, I hope flowers and candles, beauty and empathy will prevail! I hope that our common fears will unite us and not tear us apart.
This is a recipe for sharing. It serves many, so extend the warmth of your oven to those close to you. I shared this lasagna with close friends who inspire me. Each fights, in his or her own way, for a better world. Each of these friends chooses beauty and empathy, and I’m grateful for it.
Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna (Gluten Free)
About this Recipe: Perfect for serving a group, this lasagna tastes like the best of fall! In the spirit of simpler preparations around the holidays, I used an organic canned pumpkin puree instead of roasting my own. The hearty green layer is a quick kale pesto. Use the leftovers wherever you would use a traditional basil pesto. Brown rice noodles make for more flavor, and they make this a gluten-free, crowd-pleasing option. Serve it with Wigle Whiskey’s Walkabout (whiskey + pressed apple cider).
Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna (Gluten Free)
Adapted from Julia’s Album
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Pumpkin Filling Ingredients
2 1/2 cups organic pumpkin puree
1 cup organic ricotta cheese
1/2 cup organic soured whole milk (or more, if needed)
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
Kale Filling Ingredients
10 oz organic kale, chopped
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
15 oz brown rice lasagna noodles, cooked (about 1 1/2 packages of Tinkyada brown rice lasagna noodles)
16 oz organic grated mozzarella cheese (or more)
Grated parmesan cheese (for top layer)
ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F.
For the Pumpkin Filling:
Using a food processor, combine pumpkin puree with ricotta cheese, milk, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
For the Kale Filling:
Combine kale, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, garlic, salt and pepper.
Cooking lasagna noodles:
Bring a very large pot of water to boil, and cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions. Rinse in cold water, and drain.
Grease a rectangular glass baking dish- 9×13 with olive oil.
Spread 1/3 of pumpkin filling on the bottom of the dish. Top with cooked lasagna noodles without overlapping, cutting the last noodle as necessary to cover the surface.
Spread half of kale filling over the noodles. Top lightly with mozzarella cheese.
Top with cooked noodles.
Repeat, alternating the pumpkin and kale fillings, ending with a top layer of kale.
Generously sprinkle the top layer with parmesan cheese.
Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 min. Remove foil and bake additional 10 minutes.
Serve warm, and enjoy!
This Post Has 4 Comments
This is such a heartfelt post Quelcy…so moving and true. I was in Paris just a few weeks before these horrendous events and visited some of those areas…I am amazed by their strength – and those around the world in like-situations…you are right – we must continue to cherish each other and remind ourselves that most of us want peace – it is only a few who want to destroy our peace and we cannot allow them to win…
The pumpkin-kale lasagna looks tasty – I love a good vegetable lasagna – pinned it! 🙂
Thanks Linda! I’m glad you were able to experience the beauty of Paris and avoid the catastrophe. Hope you had a joyous Thanksgiving!
What a great post. You seem like a genuine soul. Peace and love to you this holiday season. Thank you for rich and stunning photos with a lovely recipe.
Thank you so much! I take that as a high compliment! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!