Let Brother Victor Bust Your Salad Boredom
Healthy eating gets a reinvention from a little-known cookbook
Seven years ago my amazing combustion machine of a metabolism came to a grinding halt. The pounds piled on and I had to come to terms with the fact that I could no longer eat like Michael Phelps before an Olympic meet, ordering the Hungry Man’s Special for breakfast (replete with homefries and several variants of cured meat!), a steaming bowl of pasta for lunch, then a steak and potato for dinner.
Oh, yeah, and there were a bunch of cakes and cookies — and probably Twinkies — in between. I know, pull out your smallest violins.
But after fifty years of “not getting” the body struggle that some of my friends had to deal with in high-school, I got clued in. Fast. One of the first things that Lyn-Genet, author of the book The Plan — which literally taught me how to eat healthy — ordered me to do was restrict my intake of meat to 4-6 oz per day. What filled in the holes on my plate, of course, were vegetables — and salad. But alas, how many unique experiences can you create with romaine or frisee or even spring mesclun mix, really?
I bottled my own vinaigrettes and it still got boring. Until Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette walked into my life when my friend Stephanie brought “salad” for dinner. What was this amazing mix of pear, endive, brie and pecans? I ordered the 2004 book (Twelve Months of Monastery Salads: 200 Divine Recipes for All Seasons) and now delight in my dinner-worthy jumbles of peas, fennel, cherry tomatoes, shallots and crumbled Roquefort (St. Scholastica Salad) or celery, dates, apples, red bell peppers, cukes, shallots and almonds (Madagascar Date-Nut Salad).
Though some salads contain fish or eggs — or even caviar, most are as the brother notes in his introduction, “basically vegetarian, thus adhering to the principle of the monastic diet as prescribed in the Rule of St. Benedict.” And all of this comes with a healthy dose of eating inspiration: quotes from the likes of St. Jerome to Albert Schweitzer.