COURAGE is not a man with a gun in his hand. It is knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through, no matter what – Atticus Finch.
Some writers impress, some inspire while some simply fade away in the light of day. But Harper Lee, with just one glorious book under her belt, sits firmly in my head – bag, baggage and all. I just can’t seem to replace her. A lot many others try to occupy the coveted seat, but she just won’t budge.
‘To kill a Mocking Bird’ is not an ordinary book. And Atticus Finch is no ordinary hero. The book is a bolt of lightning. A revelation. And Finch’s kindness, courage and tenacity – invigorating.
Now what does a burrito have to do with Finch, courage or any mocking bird. Well.
I introduced the story to my eight year old this summer in her holidays. And although she seemed more fascinated with Scout and Boo and the title itself, it was Atticus Finch’s character that the relentless mother chose to dissect. Now, at our own very personal level thus began a truly interesting character dissertation of Mr. Finch. All this, while we prepped lunch using whatever we could find in the pantry. The detailed explanations were simplified for her unpolluted mind. What does an 8 year old know about racism or tolerance or black or white or courage without a gun? Though exhausting, the discussion was a revelation.
Untainted, pure minds have the most basic humane questions, to which, mostly you will have no answers. It is the way it is, was all that I could say. Their usually winged imagination falls short when human nature is in context. To explain that it takes more courage to stand up for your beliefs than to hold a gun was an insightful discussion for both of us.
At one point, I felt I rather stop, maybe I’m destroying her innocence. But I wasn’t.
Innocence is not crushed by an honest dialogue, rather it is enlivened and enlightened. It was a good thing that the deep discussions were laced with good food. This way you make happy memories and remember things for a longer time. She associates salsa and beans and guacamole with so many aspects of the book. Somehow, the food rendered the analysis less morbid, less sad and more hopeful. While little hands assembled the wrap, the mind too voiced it’s own opinions. How she would have punished Bob for being ‘so bad’ and how Tom would not die and how she would like to smack some more sour cream if I let her.
A red bean burrito is as satisfying to prepare and enjoy as it to read a well written book. Well, almost
To make 4 burritos –
4 flour or corn tortillas
8-10 tablespoons of red beans corn mix(recipe below)
4 tablespoons of guacamole
4 tablespoons of sour cream
4 tablespoons of tomato salsa
4 tablespoons of cabbage onion salad
a handful of olives and jalapeños for taste.
lime wedges, tomato salsa and hot sauce to serve
For the Red Bean Vegetable Mixture:
1. 1 cup boiled red beans or rajma
2. 1/2 cup sweet corn
3. 1/4 cup chopped peppers
4. 1 tsp minced garlic and ginger
5. 1 big onion, chopped
6. salt, pepper powder and paprika according to taste
7. 1 tbsp olive oil
For the red bean mix –
In a skillet, heat oil, sauté ginger garlic and onions, till they sweat and turn pink. Add chopped peppers and corn. Stir fry for a couple of minutes. Then add boiled beans along with salt, pepper powder and paprika. Mix well. Coarsely mash with the back of the ladle. Remove from flame. Keep aside to cool.
Take one tortilla, spread 2 tablespoons of red bean mix lengthwise in the centre. Top with guacamole, salsa, red cabbage salad and sour cream – all one tablespoon or more. Garnish with olives, jalapeños and a dash of lime. Fold and serve immediately with more salsa n cream!
Note: You can add any other vegetable with red beans if you like. Broccoli, zucchini or tofu will be equally delicious
Note: Cheese lovers – grate some up before the final folding.
Note: The cabbage onion salad is nothing but thinly sliced veggies marinated in little salt and lime juice for an hour.
I asked for the moral of the story in one or two lines only.
And this is what she said – To not be bad like Bob and to be good and courageous like Atticus. Hmm…. I think she got that right?
I painted a pretty decent picture without stressing on the heart breaking pathos of the story but I’m glad I introduced it to her this early. Later at every stage when she reads it, the book will reveal something new to her, as it still does to me.
It’s quite magical, isn’t it?!… This process of reading.