It happened on a mild autumn day, as the late afternoon’s light was just starting to disappear, in a thicket of bushes on the side of the junior high school. My slide into juvenile delinquency and the self-prescribed medication that put a tolerable haze over adolescence – I got stoned. It was a just few years back, at sleep-away-camp, I was sitting amongst a group of counselors, who were barely my senior, hand rolling a “cigarette.” I was awestruck by the paper they used – a rainbow colored sheet that they said they were filling with tobacco, and I believed them. But in the long shadows of that cooling afternoon I realized they were lying to me, and my innocence was forever shattered. I knew with that first toke I was doing the first really bad thing with repercussions beyond my parent’s potential wrath. Of course, the paranoia that smoking pot created only intensified this concern. Still, I naughtily, giddily puffed away.
I glided home concerned that I be there on time for dinner – it was both a requirement and the pot was working its hunger producing magic. I was so grateful that my father was working late and would not to be home for the evening meal for I was sure he would sniff me out – he has the nose of a bloodhound. My mother was a much easier mark, and concealing my altered state from her was a tad easier. Even though my eyes were beet red, and I thought very word I spoke at the dinner table was being scrutinized I managed to get through the meal undetected. I eventually got turned on to Visine to help dilute the devilish glare this not particularly performance enhancing drug. The one activity pot surely abets is one’s ability and desire to eat. That meal that night glowed, and yet it was the usual salad; my mother made a mixed salad nightly accompanied with an array of dressings, hamburgers and canned French cut green beans. I inhaled five hamburgers before I started to slow down with my sixth. My mother didn’t comment on my unusually large sum consumed that night, for her, I was still an innocent, growing, little boy.
Bread Salad - serves 6 to 8
3 cups of cubed bread - such as crusty Italian peasant loaf or baguette
1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes - halved
1 hot house cucumber - 3/4” diced
1 small red onion - sliced thinly
3 celery stalks - 3/4” diced
5 scallions - diced
2 bunchs arugula - washed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup torn mint leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves – crushed to a pasted
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts - toasted
Spread the bread cubes on a baking tray and dry out in a 250-degree for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not allow the bread cubes to develop too much color.
Place the vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper in a food processor and pulse. Pour in the oil and process till smooth.
Toss all ingredients together making sure to distribute the dressing thoroughly. Serve within a half hour. If you want you can assemble the components of the salad up to 24 hours in advance. Keep the bread and dressing separate until you are ready to serve.