Thursday, November 15, 2012

On being an opinionated person

This week I posted something controversial on Facebook.

For the first part of life, I was told that there's one right way to believe, and you should conform your thoughts to that. And so I tried. Later, I discovered that other people say there's a subtly different one right way, definitely not the same as the first right way, and that I should conform my thoughts to that. And so I tried again. Then, one day*, I realized that the people before me, the people before my heroes and before their heroes, all thought differently from each other in small and big ways both. For the first time, I realized that when pieces of an idea just don't fit together, it's possible my understanding is the problem, but more likely the fault lies with the pieces themselves.

This started a cascade of reevaluation, but I'm stuck now wondering to do with the results of a half-decade of reorganizing my thoughts. For the first time, I largely own my ideas. It turns out when I actually believe in something I feel passionately about it. I want not just to be satisfied with correctness, but to wrestle with implications and press forward into application so that the world can become truest and most just version of itself.

Today, I read this post, and though we are living very different lives, I felt like I had found a soulmate when I hit this paragraph:**

In some situations, I feel like an acquired taste. I can be too strong, too opinionated, too pushy, too-often-in-the-deep-end-of-the-pool, for the average group of women. For example, I blogged all October about poverty while everyone else blogged about thankfulness and craft projects. I’ve learned to restrain myself, I’m trying to figure out when to move and when to listen, but I’m always keeping myself in check.

I've spent a long time trying my hardest not to be that intense. I learned the language of the insiders and downplayed my talents to not rock the boat. But I'm too rusty now at speaking the old dialects to fit in anymore; my accent is showing. I value my new perspectives too much to pretend I don't have them. It's amazing, and freeing, and makes me feel more vulnerable than I ever did with an official stance to hide behind. But what can I do?

This week I posted something controversial on Facebook. It might be small, maybe even be a little bit lame, but it's a start.


Much like my current opinions, this soup is something I would have rejected outright a few years ago, but am now thrilled to have in my life. It's the perfect soup for fall. The tahini (sesame seed paste) really makes it, giving it a rich, nutty depth you miss without it, so give it a try!  

Chick-Pea and Spinach Soup with Garlic, from The Cook's Encyclopedia of Soup)


2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
5 cups vegetable stock
generous 2 cups peeled and finely chopped potatoes (2-3 middling size ones)
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2/3 cup heavy cream (the sauce broke when I used half-and-half the other day. Healthy eaters beware!)
2 tablespoons tahini
8 ounces spinach, shredded
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I often omit this, though it is a yummy touch)
fresh cracked pepper


1 Heat oil and sautee garlic and onion until soft and translucent.
2 Stir in the coriander and cumin powders and cook till aromatic.
3 Pour in stock and add chopped potatoes.
4 Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes, add chickpeas and simmer 5 more minutes.
5 Blend cornstarch with cream, tahini, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper as desired.
6 Stir into the soup along with the spinach.
7 Bring to a boil while stirring frequently and let simmer another 2 minutes. Adjust salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
8 Serve immediately. (Preferably with a baguette or rolls)

*It all started with a quote from George MacDonald's essay "Life." Thank God for bunny trails through wikipedia.
**Please go back and read her whole post, check out the store and the opportunity to help with the relief efforts in the Dominican; she does amazing work and so do her friends.


Jessie said...

Howdy! Wow, that quote is amazing. Oh, the Facebook friends I've lost. Here is a GIF: :-D

Elin said...

I too am an aquired taste! Love the blog, welcome back my friend :)
Will try the soup.

annie said...

Beck, this post blew me away. The good, hard growth it represents is beautifully articulated and hard-won. (Here's hoping the soup's half as amazing.)

Becky said...

Ok, you guys, I don't think I know how to reply to a comment directly. That seems like a problem, so if you know how to change my settings or whatever to make that work, please let me know! :)

Thanks for the feedback!

@Jessie - Howdy, to you, too! That gif is hilarious, and I know you know what I'm talking about with facebook.

@Elín - you! You are great. I am always amazed when people don't see it. How can they miss it? But I am so glad you've been one of the flavors of my life!

@Annie - thanks for being a sounding board as I've hashed out all.the.things.

@Annie & Elín - I hope you do enjoy the soup. I'm always so doubtful about it when I start to make it (ground coriander seed just isn't pretty) but by the time it comes together, I am so happy to have a creamy, hearty (vegetarian!) warm bowl of deliciousness. Maybe I'll post my hummus recipe sometime since you're sure to have leftover tahini with this recipe.