Sunday, May 20, 2012

Forget Spring Rolls: Summer Rolls

I've been suffering urges to eat live green things by the fistful recently. There's something about the onset of hot weather and the boisterous upspringing of plants that makes me want to rip off their tender little leaves and eat them like a hungry, hungry beast. It's like I'm trying to cram in all of the fresh air and sunlight they've absorbed. I am eating plants the way some ancient warriors consumed the heart of their enemy: to gain their strength and wisdom. There's a Philip K. Dick short story, "Piper in the Woods", in which people, suddenly craving a simpler life, start claiming that they have become plants. There's a certain appeal to it: what if sitting still, smiling at the sun all day fulfilled all of your needs? In the absence of that, or, rather, the presence of all the other things that must be done, or that I do anyway, I try to steal the essence of leafy plants. By serenely dismembering and eating them.

Vietnamese gỏi cuốn, literally, "salad rolls" but also known as summer rolls or Vietnamese spring rolls, combine fragrant, leafy herbs, crisp veggies like bean sprouts and thin-cut carrot and cucumber, and a little bit of protein, usually from shrimp or shredded chicken and roll it all up in bánh tráng, rice paper. Not only do they satisfy my unholy cravings for crisp, green crunch, but they also require very little prep and even less time with the stove going, which is always at a premium when it gets hot out. Even more so, they're fun to put together and make dinner into a great group activity.


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