“Julie, It’s me, your heart. Are you listening? Those butterflies doing aerials in your stomach? Ignore them. Those quiverings are merely reactions to the chemicals surging through your system right now, making you feel ‘in love’ – no relation to real Love, with a capital ‘L.’ Love is MY domain. The saying may be, ‘Trust your gut,’ but believe me, when it comes to Love, let me do the talking. They call it ‘Matters of the heart’ for a reason. I empathize, at the first sign of butterflies, you bloom in response. Suddenly, rather than hiding in your house in your old, ratty yoga pants all day, you feel buoyant and sexy as you strut down the sidewalk. You are transformed into Ms. Personality, sharing light banter with the grocery store clerk and the bank security guard as you run your errands. The warm sun shines brightly upon you, although we both can see the sky is grey and cold. You can’t concentrate, giggling to yourself as you recall sweet nothings whispered in your ear and the electricity of his touch along your skin. This fluttering in your gut inspires you to buy sexy, expensive lingerie, sign up for a Pilates class, throw out those cookies, and cut out all those naughty carbs. (It’s a conundrum for me – I’ll benefit from a healthier diet, but I want you to eat better for yourself, not because the butterflies coerced you).
I’m fairly perceptive and I’m convinced that dopamine and norepinephrine, these chemicals promoting this blissful, ‘in-love’ feeling, must also confuse and discombobulate your brain as well, ensuring you’ll forget (once again, may I remind you) the rest of the story. Why can’t you recall that you’ve experienced this giddiness before – dozens of times? Why must you, me, and the rest of the organs residing within you, be swept away into this land of butterflies and candy-coated rainbows when, soon enough, the clouds of reality will cast their shadows over this romantic scene again? Don’t you remember re-reading your old journal a few weeks ago? I do – I constrict at the thought! On its pages, in your left-handed scrawl, you captured the metamorphosis from ‘bright new love’ through ‘struggling with difficulties’ to ‘sadness’ and finally ‘heartbreak,’ when I’m shattered into a million pieces. There’s your gut-induced butterfly life-cycle in ink on paper – and spanning less than a year.
Do you forget this pattern because, should your brain fully grasp how swiftly the fluttering turns to catastrophe, you would avoid this biochemical trap again? Can the butterflies ever foretell an ending other than sorrow? Put your trust in me, dear Julie. Listen to your heart, rather than the butterflies. I’ll find you true Love.
– Always, Me”
Chermoula, a North African sauce and marinade, is traditionally used to flavor seafood, but is also delicious on red meat, chicken, and vegetables, like the sweet potatoes and eggplant above. It’s North Africa’s answer to chimichurri.
CHERMOULA SAUCE AND MARINADE
Garlicky, tart, earthy Chermoula works as a marinade and sauce for fish, chicken, or veggies. Add it to mayonnaise for a flavorful sandwich spread.
- ½ cup fresh cilantro
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- ½ cup mildly-flavored olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Chermoula can be refrigerated for a week.
CHERMOULA SWEET POTATOES
Garlicky Chermoula pairs perfectly with sweet potatoes. It’s the culinary Venn diagram of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.
- 1 ½ lbs. sweet potatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
- ¼ cup Chermoula sauce, plus more for drizzling
- Preheat oven to 400°. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato wedges and 3 Tablespoons chermoula.
- Bake for 15 minutes, flip wedges over and bake for another 15 minutes until tender.
- Drizzle additional chermoula sauce over wedges before serving.