I am in love with a good, good man. Truly. And, we are just a few months away from celebrating the birthdays that will officially take us into the season where we’ve been together longer than we’ve been apart.
We met when we were a wee 20 years old on a junior year study abroad program in Florence, Italy. Yes, Italy. I was the island girl with the tough talk and half shirts; he was the tall, lean football player with a mop of hair and quite demeanor.
We didn’t like each other – but we sure enjoyed each other’s company. When we were together there was no pressure; we could could just talk about life. About weightlifting. About family. About dreams and hopes.
He taught me how to eat sunflower seeds by stashing a handful in my cheek. We’d pass hours on trains seeing who could keep a bottle cap stuck to their forehead the longest. We’d walk to classes together. Sometimes I’d meet him after class and surprise him with a slice of his favorite pizza; once he brought me the most beautiful calla lilly just because he knew I had had a hard day.
We traveled together. We ate together. We confided in each other. We walked to and from classes together. We sat in piazzas on warm days doing homework, and drank wine late into the evenings in ancient Florentine pubs. We slept on trains, on beaches, in caves; we went to museums, and bull fights, and the Mediterranean coast – all just as two friends on an adventure.
And then… we fell in love in the midst of it. He went from being my friend… to being the only thing on my mind – and he’s never left.
Why am I telling you this? Because, no joke: there is something about this quinoa mandarine ginger parfait I just made that took me right back to the streets of Firenze.
Maybe it was the sweetness of the hint of honey, or the burst of citrus, or the crunch of the almonds with the spice of the ginger. Something about all of these flavors and textures coming together has me 20 again – and overwhelms me with the sweet lightness of falling in love in Italy. I have been pulled out of the grey of the day… and, oh man, I am counting the minutes ’til I see my hot man walk through the door.
You need that too? Well, here’s what you’ll need for this yummy dish:
- heaping 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 1 mandarine orange, peeled and divided
- 1 tsp local honey
- 1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger (I use a microplane zester – and, if you don’t have one, it is a MUST.)
- 2 TBSP rough chopped almonds (I put 1/4 cup of whole almonds into my mini Cuisinart processor and grated on high for about 15 seconds and saved what I didn’t use for later)
- 1-2 TBSP coconut milk
Mix it up, present it to yourself in a beautiful bowl, and dream on, girlfriend. Dream of love, dream of warm days ahead, dream of planting a big kiss on your man when he walks through the door…