Fortitude is the guard and support of the other virtues, read the fortune cookie I opened in December of last year, right after finishing a grueling ICU rotation. And something like a stuck prayer, what do I find in the bottom of my call-night chucks after nine months, just before I lace them up to head back to the hospital? None other than Fortitude, stuck to me like a stubborn label, to borrow Annie Dillard’s perfect line from “Living Like Weasels” (this essay my personal literary pep rally).
This is the first time a fortune cookie has repackaged and re-fortuned itself to me. This bears certain significance as I face ICU yet again on Friday, and after a season of jet-lagged nights which have already rent asunder my immune system. Caffeine almost has no power to confer well-being to me anymore. Goodness is going to have to be endogenous henceforth, methinks. Good food, good exercise, the real stuff, etc.
I thought I was getting the flu or suffering myalgias from some disturbance of my diurnal cortisol flow, when in fact I had just forgotten about the several 15-30 minute speed yoga sessions I’ve done at home with OnlineGym4Me –thank you, sleep deprivation (and thank you, OnlineGym4Me for the membership treat–very convenient indeed, so convenient that I’ve even forgotten that I worked out!). Apparently I’m doing yoga in my sleep while Izzy shevasanas on my mat. That is, really, the only pose bulldogs will do. That and child’s pose.
To all those with burning rotator cuffs and tender lats—fortitude, my friends. And good for you for getting on the mat. Literally or figuratively. May you carry good fortune with you, even if you stand upon it unknowing.
Casarecce with Sausage, Pickled Cherries and Pistachios
Adapted from Food and Wine
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup unsalted pistachios
1 pound casarecce pasta
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
3/4 cup pitted and chopped Pickled Cherries
Shredded Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving
In a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Add the pistachios and toast over moderate heat, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and let cool, then coarsely chop.
In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.
In the same saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the sausage and cook over moderate heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the thyme, garlic and Aleppo pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the pasta and reserved cooking water and cook, stirring, until the pasta is hot and coated in a light sauce, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pickled cherries and toasted pistachios and season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to shallow bowls, top with cheese and serve.
Eat, and then get thee to the mat to tuck that pasta into the places it should be, ahem.