Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What dreams may come

Ever have weird dreams? You know, the kind that make it easy to believe the government is pumping hallucinogenics into our water supply?

I had one of those last night.

I was at DVD Nouveau in Newlands, down the road from my house. If you’ve never been, it’s a ‘boutique’ DVD store, with chandeliers and upholstered furniture that gives them permission to overcharge. They do let you keep DVDs for two days though. I don’t think I could live without DVD Nouveau.

But I digress.

The dream: I was at DVD Nouveau at night and it was quite dark inside — the shelves were dimly lit, which gave the space a distorted feel, like a fisheye lens, so I had to practically press my nose against the DVDs to see what was what.

Then the lights go up, and my husband is sitting on a chair in the middle of the store — except he’s not my real-life husband, he’s an Italian man in chef’s whites who looks a bit like Al Pacino in Scarface (oh how I wish this had been a sex dream).

I am standing facing him, holding a large, cascading bunch of spinach leaves. I am utterly in awe of spinach in that moment, wondering how the perfection of its corrugated texture, the potency of its pigment (I did NOT just write that, yea gods) had escaped my notice before now.

I express these feelings to my Al Pacino-esqe husband, stroking the leaves lovingly, and he mumbles noncommittally.

Now a small table for two appears, discreetly set to one side, and on it is a platter piled high with steaming, spinach-laced spaghetti, and as I look closer I see it is dotted with cooked snails. In real life this would be gross. In my dream, it’s the pinnacle of haute cuisine.

I lift a snail to my mouth, and…

Much like a David Lynch film, the dream now changes tack completely.

The table and Al disappear, the lights dim again, and I am wandering around trying to select a DVD — except this time I’m wearing a belt over a jersey dress, and I am feeling quite anxious about this fashion decision (seriously). Other customers are milling about, and the staff — film students who look like extras in a Lady Gaga video — are busying themselves behind the counter. But I KNOW they are ALL looking at me secretly and wondering what on EARTH convinced me that wearing THAT BELT was a good idea.

And then I woke up by sort of karate-chopping out of bed. (Gave my real-life husband a fright, I can tell you.)

Dreams are a total fucking mystery, but there are clues as to how my subconscious put this one together. (Places everyone!)

Exhibit A: Not too long ago I watched a David Lynch movie called Inland Empire. It was so surreal and chaotic I could literally feel my brains being sucked out through my eyeballs. If you want to drive someone completely, irretrievably insane (so you can have them committed and collect the insurance — you know), I recommend strapping them to a chair and making them watch Inland Empire on a loop, Clockwork Orange-style.

Exhibit B: I made the following spinach pasta dish for dinner last night, and it was the most facepalmingly delicious thing I have eaten in quite some time. It is more than the sum of its parts, and completely explains my somnambulant spinach fetish.

I’m afraid I have no explanation for Al Pacino's presence, though. Do I need one?

Pasta with spinach and blue cheese
Serves 4

There are just a couple of fine points here: Don't drain the pasta too thoroughly; the water that clings to it and the leaves of the spinach is needed to thin the cheese and butter and create a real sauce. If the mixture seems too thick when you return it to the pan, add a little of the pasta-cooking water or a couple of tablespoons of milk. Finally, in a dish like this any blue cheese will work well, but great cheese will have a real impact.

Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound spinach
1 pound spaghetti, linguine, or other pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 pound Roquefort, gorgonzola or other good blue cheese, crumbled

1. Set large pot of water to boil, and add salt. Remove largest, thickest stems from spinach; roughly chop leaves and remaining stems. Wash thoroughly. 
2. When water comes to boil, add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly tender. When just about done, add spinach. Stir. As soon as spinach wilts completely — less than 30 seconds — drain quickly. 
3. Immediately return pasta and spinach to pot, with butter and cheese, over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese and butter melt, all water is absorbed, and pasta is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Source: The New York Times