My father in law, like any good man advanced in years and living life jovially, has a repertoire of punchlines he likes to work into a conversation for comedic effect. For instance, I’ve learned never to comment on feeling cold on a blustery day. (If I so much as shiver he chimes in with gusto: “But you’re Canadian!”) That being said, like any good daughter in law living life cautiously, I laugh along every time. So, when I mentioned a few weeks ago how anxious I was to be taking the plane by myself, right on cue came my father in law with the line “And yet you’ve taken the plane so many times!” (Followed by exaggerated laughter.) This is his response each and every time my fear of flying comes up. Bless him.
It’s true, I have flown a fair amount. Not as often as some of course but enough that I can understand why one might assume it gets easier. But for me, it doesn’t. If anything, each flight just seems to make me even more afraid of flying. So to be taking the plane for the first time without my husband, I was a nervous wreck. I tried to be logical about it, looking up the safety record of the airline for reassurance as I’d known it to be one of the safest in the world, only to discover it had actually dropped down the list in recent years… and swiftly deciding to avoid search engines altogether.
I was especially concerned with what to do with my hands. See, my husband always reminds me to remove my rings because I inevitably crush his hand during take off. I was explaining my trepidation to my doctor and she said, “Bring a book.” To which I automatically replied “To hold onto?” She looked at me like I was foreign exchange student on my first day of school. “To read.” Oh, right. Gotcha.
Fast forward. I’m on the plane. I’ve taken all the
alcohol advice I’ve been given: dear friends brought me to the airport, (and all the way to security while giving me multiple thumbs up and snapping encouraging, while hopefully not soon to be morbid, photos of me…) I had a cozy blanket my friend Florence had lent me, ear buds in listening to Jasmine Thompson, an honest to goodness handkerchief with my husband’s scent on it (don’t judge), low-dosage Xanax dissolved under my tongue (a lot of what I’m saying needs to be read without judgement), and Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” clutched in my grasp. You’d think SOMETHING would have dulled. Honestly. You’d think just one extremity might have loosened and given me one less physical tension to be aware of. But no. Not a/one. I was on high alert, to the max, for reals yo.
During take off, I’m praying. I’m deep breathing. I’m ripping Jasmine out of my ears cause she sounds so chill and centered that I want to scream at her. “Stop singing like you know me! You don’t know me Jasmine!!” At some point during the ascent, there was a bump. It was probably tantamount to a stroller going over a speed bump, but it felt like the plane was coming apart. I reacted. I didn’t realize I’d reacted of course since I’d worked so hard to create my boule … but before I realize what my body has done I feel something grasping my right hand. I open my eyes long enough to see that the woman next to me has reached out and is telling me “Ça va aller… Ça va aller…” My hand tightens around hers, and she clutches on in response. She must have held my hand for 180 seconds. I know that sounds like nothing, but when it’s a stranger and the only sound is ambiguous aircraft noise… well it felt intimate. The moment was broken by the captain’s voice booming that the seat belt sign was off and we would have a choice of chicken or pasta to look forward to. She smiled at me, squeezed her eyes knowingly, and got back to her movie.
It’s amazing isn’t it? I had worked so hard to close myself into my space to protect me from my fear, and in the end it was a simple gesture of human connection that helped me through it. The very thing I needed, a hand to squeeze, was offered to me from a total stranger.
What does all of this have to do with a chickpea burger? Absolutely nothing.
1/2 jar (200g) chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 block (100g) feta, crumbled
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
handful dried chives
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
for the condiment:
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/8 light mayonnaise
squirt of lemon juice
1 tsp piri piri sauce
1/2 tsp dill
cracked black pepper
Mash the chickpeas and feta, combine additional ingredients and mix together. Form into patties. Heat a frying pan (I used a wok) over medium heat. Put a small amount of oil. Fry the burgers on each side.
Depending on the size of your patties this recipe should yield 4-6.
Serve on a bun or your favorite lettuce with a slather of the condiment.