vegan moussaka

You know what I miss? When I had the time to flip through my cookbooks or scroll through food blogs and bookmark recipes I actually planned on making. My hours of stomach-rumbling browsing has turned to minutes. My zest for multi-step, artfully assembled dishes such as this vegan moussaka with pine nut cream, has dwindled to cravings for simple and quick meals.

For all the things that being busy gives, there are so many things it takes away: the time to let books enliven the mind, friends renew the spirit, and food delight the senses. At least I have the pictures to remind me of these things passed, surely to come again.

I made this moussaka a month or so ago to share with friends for dinner. It made for a wonderful side dish to the salad, cheese, bread and wine they provided.

My first experience with moussaka was in Patra, Greece. Freshly off the ferry, my companions and I stopped for a bite before boarding a tumultuous train to Athens. I don’t remember much aside from the picture I have of the moment. Isn’t it strange how pictures so often circumvent memory?

I can see four women bent over plates of pita, gyro, hummus, and tzatziki. I can see goblets of wine casting their sunny purple on our stacks of this earthy eggplant casserole, with all its layers fused together with rich tomato sauce.

The picture takes me back to that slight strangeness we felt, having just met, and it’s quick dissolution over the new tastes before us. I can almost sense, once more, the Mediterranean air so near our skin.

The bright colors of this carefully layered dish bring two things to mind then. One, the gift of having time to make good food, and two, the thrill of newness. Balance is not an easy thing, but gratitude, once learned, surely is.

On this (Canadian) thanksgiving weekend, the pictures of this meal remind me that there will again be balance in my life and serenity in eating. I might not have time to make and photograph a whole new kitchen extravaganza, but I have these saved memories of meals I have not yet shared. It may not be turkey, but it speaks loudly of the slow and simple life.

I have so much to be thankful for, even just in the past few days. A surprise visit from my mom and an impromptu trip to Canada, finishing my first marathon, and a week that’s already looking better than the last. My glass is truly full, and with my mom around, tonight so will be my plate.

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