People, it is that sorta day.
When you meet your "village" for pancakes and chocolate milk and never mind that there are tubs of margarine and bottles of Aunt Jemima (that make you wish you had brought a stick of butter, slick of maple syrup and jar of peanut butter instead). There are so many faces you know and so many you don't, an old co-worker to hug and chalked-up pavement to sit on with friends while music way too loud for 9:30 pounds into your head. There are balloons and ice cream cones, fire trucks and 80-year-old Norwegian dancers, sparkly kites, your favourite Zumba song and a gigantic inflatable obstacle course (which you have now decided you want for your birthday party this year)!
When the sun shines and you suddenly realize you are overdressed.
When you bike to the Moss Street Market - the first full one of the year and it is full - of people and motion and laughter, rippling in the act of gather. There are sausages being fried in onions that smell like the best kind of caramel, handmade patchwork stuffed animals, a little dog so small and noble and well-behaved you think, for the first time in your life, you might like one. A kale bonsai tree, a man who cracks apricot kernels for medicine and a bunch of little beets, sweet and striped inside, like a secret prize, that you know you will eat with meltingly ripe, ash-dusted goat cheese.
When the wind blows (confused, in a tangle) sending whirls of tissue paper pink cherry blossoms up around you (there is no end of things in the heart).
When you drop by Fairfield Market and there are so many small wonders packed inside that you wish there were a tiny community store like this on your street - full of mixing and mingling, the blast of steam and waft of roasting coffee, counters lined with just-picked specials - tight tauts of asparagus (from Cowichan Bay), duck eggs and heaps of flowering kale!
When mangoes are the juiciest and drippiest and sweetest they've ever been.
When you go to Finest at Sea because you've heard spot prawn season has begun and oh, it has - they're throwing them, jolting and alive, right onto the grill, dousing them with olive oil and garlic and lemon juice and herbs and you eat two - huge and hot and crunchy, sweet and charred, every bit of them, even the snap of the head, juicy pure, spilling down your hand. When you bring home a pound, alive, feelers poking through plastic, probably dripping everywhere, balloon to your backpack and everywhere you go people are looking at each other, in the eye, and smiling.
And, just now, sitting in the backyard, under the shade of the birch tree, pollen dropping between the cracks of your keyboard, your neighbour gives you four shit-stained eggs, from Hagar Line and Henrietta, and you are so glad you live here, in this city, in this village, on this day, on this street, in this house, here.
Oh, it is that sorta day.
Avocado, Mango and Spot Prawn Tacos
Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman
1 pound live spot prawns
glug of olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 serrano chile, minced
1 tsp whole cumin, toasted and ground
1/2 large mango, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
juice of 1 lime
1/2 avocado, sliced
3 corn tortillas
Haul out your BBQ, light it with a whoosh and turn everything up as high as it will go. Shut the lid and leave to preheat for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, gather all your ingredients and make sure they're ready to go. This comes together quickly! Also, preheat your oven to 350 F.
Throw the prawns onto the grill and cook them for about 2 minutes, or until they start to char. Flip them over and cook a minute or two longer. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, enough so you can handle them. You want to rip off their heads (eating the occasional one), pull off their legs and basically peel them. Save the heads and legs and shells though because you can make a bitchin' stock with them.
Once you're almost done this task and thinking how little you ended up with, start heating a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Pour in a glug of olive oil, add the garlic and saute for a minute or so, stirring frequently. Add the chile and saute for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the cumin, mango, most of the cilantro leaves and prawns, which you should have finished peeling by now. Put the tortillas in the oven to warm - they take about thirty seconds on each side. Cook the prawn mixture for about a minute, just to heat everything through, then add the lime juice and turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasonings - add a bit of salt and crack of black pepper if you like.
Place the tortillas on a plate, divide the prawn mixture evenly between them, top with avocado, the remaining cilantro leaves and you're done!
Enough for 1. Double or triple or quadruple accordingly!