For my entire life, I have been nearly blind.
Since second grade my eyesight has been rapidly deteriorating, due in part, I believe, to a lonely childhood spent reading in near darkness and moving cars for hours on end.
My dad used to pick me up from school early (once a week? Once a month?) to go to an eye doctor who would give me eye exercises that I wouldn’t do. For me, this time with my dad was a good excuse for both of us to get forbidden mint chocolate chip ice cream from the High’s store in Meyersville and spend a little time together. The eye doctor really did seem like the perfect ruse to get more ice cream, especially since the only result was ever-thickening eyeglasses and an eventual prescription for contact lenses that I frequently lost, way before disposables and much to the chagrin of my parents.
As I have gotten older, my eyesight has changed so that now I can not only not see things that are far away, but I also can’t see things close up.
nearsightedness; also lack of imagination, foresight, or intellectual insight
It’s a metaphor, y’all.
Not only have I spent my lifetime being blindsided by things that I never saw coming, but now I can’t even see what’s right in front of me.
It doesn’t even matter if a tree falls in the forest. I can’t see the forest OR the motherfucking tree.
It’s hard to reframe this stunning lack of clarity. I could break the words down to their parts: hyper = “beyond,” but myope means “shut”, so that ruins that attempt at positivity (off topic, a word I loathe and which I am not 100% convinced is actually a word).
I could envision myself walking through a softened landscape, all pleasant and blurry, like a vaseline-smeared Summer’s Eve commercial.
Mostly, though, I just feel dumb and perpetually set on my ass by things that happen, both large and small.
Thoughtfully, my inner voice confirms on a regular basis that I am, in fact, a total fucking moron. After all, “lack of imagination, foresight, or intellectual insight” is a feature of myopia. So there’s that.
We all of us walk around thinking how what we see is a confirmation of what we know. We rely on sight, that dumbest of all of the senses, to provide the most vital of information. But our vision is constantly changing, and it’s a known fact that eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable – the weak instrument of their eyes processing what is seen through the filter of their feeling and experience so that what they saw isn’t often what actually happened.
There is this thing in psychology whereby people recount their traumatic experience to help others heal, referred to as “bearing witness.” In this process, we share what we feel, not what we see, in order to lighten our load and to help others work through their own traumatic events. Psychologists believe that this practice not only helps patients heal from horrific experiences but also helps a community offer empathy and support.
When someone gets up on the witness stand, they talk about what they (think they) saw.
When someone bears witness, they recount their feelings and experiences.
In the first case, it’s nearly impossible to get right.
In the second, no vision – myopic or otherwise – is necessary.
Art is like this also, even the visual kind. Yes, it’s a medium seen with the eyeballs, but painting can provoke wildly differing reactions, like triggers. Same with literature, music, etc. It’s the feeling part of the experience, the experience of the viewing and everything that the viewer brings to that experience, not the projected upside down mirror image that the brain processes that is the thing.
When I am asked if I would rather be deaf or blind, I pick deaf 100% of the time because OH MY GOD MOUTH NOISES, but in thinking about sight these days and what it means to really not see something coming, I don’t know if it matters one way or the other. If I get surprised constantly anyway, perhaps it’s time to stop looking for things and just get on with the business of feeling them.
In the same way that what we see is often not what we get, risotto doesn’t look like much. My Particular Friend commented once about how it always looks so unassuming, this plate full of rice, until you fork some up and experience it firsthand.
This risotto is definitely like that.
First of all, it is the most basic of fall flavors – pumpkin – but if you find that objectionable you’ll have to build a bridge and get over it (see Recipe Notes). Then a little warming spice and some salty cheese. This isn’t just the plate of rice that you see at the top of this post. You will just have to experience it for yourself.
Pumpkin Risotto With Chilis In Adobo
6-8 cups vegetable stock
Splash of olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
Splash cooking sherry or white wine (1/4 cup? ish?)
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (see Recipe Notes)
1- 2 T puréed chipotle in adobo (see Recipe Notes)
Optional: 2 tablespoons butter
Cotija cheese (for serving; see Recipe Notes)
Place stock in a pot and warm to near boiling.
Heat olive oil in a pan and add diced onion; season with salt and pepper. Sauté until nearly translucent, and then add arborio rice and toast, stirring constantly. Toast until rice is light brown and begins to release a nutty fragrance.
Add a splash of sherry or white wine and stir until the wine is nearly gone.
Add heated stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly. Don’t cheat, and don’t listen to that “no-stir” risotto bullshit. It’s bullshit. Stir your rice.
Keep adding stock and stirring until just before rice reaches al dente. You can test this by tasting, but another way is to take one grain of rice and smear it on a cutting board. The rice should smear away except for one little white speck in the middle. That’s al dente. Stop just before that.
Add pumpkin purée and adobo purée and stir until fully combined. Continue adding stock until rice is al dente, and then remove from heat and stir in your (optional) two tablespoons of butter (leave it out and this dish is vegan, without the cheese). Season with black pepper and a little salt.
Crumble cotija and serve. Also optional to add a little fresh cilantro.
- I use vegetable stock because I am cooking for a vegetarian, but chicken stock works fine.
- A word on pumpkin puree: I used this because I had leftover from a batch of ice cream, but you could make your own butternut squash purée or even use tiny diced cubes of sugar pumpkins or butternut squash. This is largely a matter of preference and time.
- No one knows what to do with a huge can of chipotle peppers in adobo, so here’s a pro-tip. Open the can when you get it, dump the entire thing in a blender/food processor, and purée . Freeze in ice cube trays and use in soups, sauces, etc.
- I didn’t have cotija, so I used crumbled feta from Prima Foods: hands down the single best feta I have ever had. You can use whatever you like, but don’t skip the cheese (unless you’re making this vegan). Tames the heat and adds some salt.