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Karma Chameleon

Summer goat cheese and vegetable lasagna with Vermont Creamery chevre

This week at Podere Conti has been a vegetarian one, although thankfully not vegan, meaning that cheese was around in abundance. A group of Tibetan Lamas has been here blessing the farm with pujas and chants, teaching mindfulness meditation and sharing rituals. Naturally, it is an all-hands-on-deck scenario, an ego-free opportunity to offer one’s self to food preparation, serving, cleaning, and dishwashing. Today’s lunch was a gorgeous vegetarian lasagna, a recipe from my dear friend Antonella’s mum, Anna Orsini, prepared by Marc “Sluggy” Pasternack, a DJ and artist from London. It was, to say the least, a masterpiece, with its layers of grilled courgettes (zucchini), aubergines (eggplant), tomato, garlic, herbs, and gorgeous buffalo mozzarella browned on top. I seized the opportunity to clear up some old lazy karma and jumped in to help, chopping, setting the table, and then serving our guests. Then it was my turn to grab a serving for myself from the kitchen and join the group.

Lo and behold, in the glass Pyrex baking dish was a large final portion of the freshest, most herbally aromatic lasagna, but something had gone horribly wrong. The tragedy! There was no cheese on top of the remaining lasagna, something I personally consider Bad Karma, for the people who left me none, and for me, for whatever I have done in the past to warrant such misfortune. I actually felt my face change color in my despair, and began fretting inside, but remembered the mindfulness I had been studying all week and promptly centered myself. Sort of.

What’s the point of serving and clearing Karma if there isn’t any cheese at the end of the rainbow? I struggled with all the colors of this primal reaction to being without, and decided to get my cheese passion in check. A relationship with any food, or anything at all for that matter, that can cause you to go red in the face is probably something to look at. So I changed my attitude. And I sat down in gratitude for the food on my plate, and for the fact that I always have an abundance of it, even without cheese today. And that’s when my Karma changed, for when I stuck my fork into my lasagna to take a bit, the tomato sauce baked into the top layer slid aside to reveal a mound of the crispiest, most flavorful buffalo mozzarella I could have ever wished for.

Will Fertman

Will Fertman is a writer and food business entrepreneur living in Berkeley, CA. A former staff writer and web manager for culture, Will wrote the Ruminations column for the magazine and spent lots of time wrangling social media. Today Will is the Director of Content and co-founder at the monger, a data-driven platform for the specialty food industry, supplying accountable information and transactions for producers, distributors, retailers, foodservice and consumers.

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