The recipe sounded easy enough. Eight ounces of goat cheese, one-third cup cream, chopped chives and a small handful of fresh herbs. Our good friends, Bob and Laurell, would be visiting from Colorado in a couple of days and I wanted to impress them with a special appetizer.
But wait? What was that last ingredient? Fresh herbs? That’s it? How was a cooking challenged gal like myself supposed to know which herbs suited a goat cheese dip? I wasn’t even sure what qualified as an herb. Parsley? Sage? Rosemary? Thyme?
So naturally, I turned to my Facebook family to unravel the mystery.
All you cooks out there. I need your help. A recipe for herbed goat cheese mousse (cheese dip) calls for a handful of chopped fresh herbs. That’s a bit vague for me. Which herbs do you recommend? Thanks!
I headed off to Safeway. I loaded my cart with the listed ingredients, choosing the pricier locally produced cheese over the cheaper import. Then I scooted my cart to Produce. I opened Facebook on my phone to see if any responses to my inquiry had been posted.
The Expert Weighs In
I was especially pleased to see that Steve, an old friend and former flame had responded. We reconnected via social media a couple years ago, along with other alumni from those days, during the run up to our forty-year class reunion.
Owner of a successful produce distribution company he inherited from his dad and worked in since he was a teenager, Steve also fancies himself a cook. My husband and I, along with Steve’s wife, and alumni visiting from out of town enjoyed a home cooked meal he prepared awhile back.
I recognized “basil” in his reply. And “lavender”? That seemed a bit odd. But another herb he recommended didn’t ring a bell. Not surprising, I thought. He is, after all, the authority in the edible plant field.
Perfect. No need to wait for any other responses. When our guests rave about the scrumptious dip I whipped up, I can brag about the exotic ingredient I discovered.
I approached a Safeway employee piling russets into a large bin and asked if he had heard of the unfamiliar plant. No, he hadn’t. He called over a colleague. She thought for a moment, then shook her head. No idea.
“I’ll look it up,” he said, retrieving his phone from a pocket. After a few screen taps, he cocked his head to one side and frowned.
“It’s coming up as…” he paused. Then suppressing a smile, “marijuana.” He proceeded to read the description. “According to Wikipedia, the name Panama Red, ‘comes from its cultivation in the country of Panama, and its claylike red color.’”
Then it hit me. Steve was arguably the most notorious prankster on campus back in the late ‘60s.
“Of course,” I said, grinning. “Some things never change.”