Are you an artist, or an athlete? A bookworm, or a thespian? A musician? A scientist?
As toddlers, we're encouraged to explore. To use all of our senses, to make a mess, to try on each and every hat in the dress-up bin. Eventually, though, as we grow up, the paths before us begin to diverge, and it's harder to hopscotch across identities, to leapfrog from artist to scholar to athlete in a single bound. We're forced, by our culture, perhaps, or by community norms, to choose a path, and to walk it mindfully, or at least with some sense of purpose.
And that's okay. It's fine, really. Some people have a natural facility, a gift, that can only be fully realized with a tremendous amount of hard work. Take Serena Williams. Or Yo Yo Ma. These folks fascinate us, not only because they're so good at what they do, but because they're easy to label, to pigeonhole. "She's an Athlete." "He's a Musician." It's nice and tidy.
But you know what? As we get even older, the tide turns again. The engineer takes up origami. The pianist starts running. The shackles of expectation loosen, and the burdens of identity lift. And you, and I, can explore a pastime not for any promise of future glory or the thrill of peer recognition, but simply because it makes us happy.
A girl who was never artistic, who could never draw or sculpt or paint, might find she's got a thing for color. Or pictures.
Manchego Walnut Pesto
In all my years of pesto-making, it never occurred to me to use any cheese but Parmesan. I'd futzed with the nuts, the herbs, and the oils, but last week for the first time ever I switched up the cheese. Manchego produces a creamy pesto, one that, when thinned with a bit of cooking water, slides easily over your favorite pasta.
Makes 1-1/2 cups
4 cups loosely-packed basil leaves
1 cup walnuts
4 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup shredded Manchego cheese
Place the basil, nuts, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5 times. Turn the machine on and slowly stream in the olive oil through the feed tube. Turn the machine off, scrape down the sides. Process about 5 seconds longer, or until emulsified. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the cheese. Tweak seasoning to taste.
Use right away, thinned with a little pasta cooking water.
(Pack leftovers into small containers, cover with a film of olive oil, and refrigerate or freeze for future use.)