This blog post is very late, but there are two good reasons why: the opera & Dolly.
Jill and I just came home from witnessing a marathon performance of Wagner’s Lohengrin which was, unlike many things my students use the descriptor “epic” for, actually EPIC. Mysterious heroes, accusations of murder, true love, witchcraft, war, revenge, heartbreak, you name it, it’s in there.
I went to the opera for the first time as a high school senior—why, I actually can’t remember (the two competing stories are: won tickets in a raffle or went to fulfill a performance-viewing requirement for my Humanities class), but seeing La Traviata is something I will never forget. From that night on, I was hooked.
Opera’s appeal is lost on many. Especially in a culture that places an inordinate emphasis on art needing to reflect “reality” and blurring the boundaries between those two things, the suspension of disbelief that opera requires can feel like too big of a gap to bridge.
But here’s the thing: it turns out human beings still need a grand gesture every once in a while. We need to get lost in something, to virtually drown in a darkened theatre, cozied up to by the swell of strings, the shatter of voices, the collective gasp of the audience when we realize that the lovers before us are doomed. We like being made to feel big, ridiculous emotions even though it’s passé to articulate those things anymore.
Our most intimate concerns on the grandest of stages. Performances that transcend what most of our bodies can and can’t do. Myth over reality. Sometimes I think we need a dose of that, and I’m very grateful I was able to get it tonight.
And to come home to this:
Say hello to Dolly, our new girl. She is an old rat terrier whom we adopted via Ratbone Rescues (THE NICEST people) and flew down from Portland just yesterday. Can I just tell you, this dog was meant to live with us? I’ve never met a sweetier lap dog who is, at the same time, obsessed with her squeaky toy and impossible to beat in tug-of-war. Last night she slept under the covers in our bed and cuddled up to me this morning, making it nearly impossible to get up and go to work. I’m in love.
Needless to say, we’ve been a bit all over the place the last few days, but rest assured I have a wonderful recipe for you today, elegant enough for the opera and also Dolly-friendly (she’s a terrible beggar for cheese).
This appetizer looks much more labor-intensive than it actually is, making it ideal for dinner parties or the holidays. Of course, you can make as much or as little as you like, so don’t rule it out as an “at home” dish, either.
If you celebrate Christmas, you can make this dish especially festive by adding chopped red pimentos to complement the green onions.
½ cup olive oil
½ cup white wine vinegar*
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup chopped green onions (scallions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
optional: 1 tsp. lemon zest
Any mild-flavored cheese will work, but I like the combinations of white & yellow cheddars or yellow cheddar with cream cheese. If you’re using cream cheese, it becomes much easier to cut if you throw it in the freezer for a few minutes.
Cut the cheeses into slices (taking into account the size of the cracker you’ll be serving it with). Arrange the cheese in a shallow dish, alternating the colors or arranging them into a design of your choice.
Place all marinade ingredients in a jar, tighten the lid, & shake vigorously. Pour the marinade over the cheese, cover the dish with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 6. Serve with crackers—we’re really loving this brand right now.
*If you can splurge on a higher-end bottle, do.