Once upon a time… I cooked for a client that had some very specific dietary needs. I was really inspired to cook for her and embraced the challenge of her restrictions. I delivered three weeks of menus that were creative and delicious despite not using many of the ingredients that I rely on for flavor. The first two weeks were well received.
The third week, there was a request for me to make more of a certain dish and bring it over the next day. I did. I delivered a bill, I got paid. The next day she said that she tasted a certain ingredient that wasn’t agreeing with her, and asked if I would please redo it. She said, “I can give you the other food back.” I had no use for the uneaten food, I couldn’t give it to another client nor did I have someone to give it to in my household. And I’m not a restaurant where you send something back, right?
I told her I would come back the next day with newly prepared food and I would be billing her a third time that week. I happily returned a third time with a new version of the dish, leaving it with her doormen. Days went by with no word or money coming from her. I reached out and she was genuinely surprised that I expected payment. (!) She proceeded to dismantle the good service I had provided the first two weeks and completely disregarded my efforts of going to her home three times in one week. I stood up for myself, apologized for the confusion, and again asked for payment. In not a very nice way, I finally got paid.
What’s the take away from that story? For me, it is one word. Service. No matter how our efforts are received, we are here to serve.
I recently had a friend who was getting some bad reviews at her job. I thought a lot about it and wrote this to her. I realize now that my response was perhaps more of a benefit to me than my friend:
“Oh Ruby, what you are doing is VERY important and you know why, because it comes from you and you're the only Ruby coming in to work today. But you know, it's all service, so we can't take it personally - the accolades or the insults. What we do, any of us, is make someone else's life easier. Teacher, lawyer, nurse, actress, banker, yoga teacher, life coach, nanny, artist, chef, POTUS, we're all doing our part to provide a sliver of ease to someone else. Yes, the accolades help and the insults sting, but the universe made a point to create us, so we need to make a point to serve the universe. We are rewarded in miracles and magic. In snowflakes, and rainbows, and beaches, and sunshines, and puppies, and food, and mountains, and when THAT is the payday, well, clearly we are getting the good end of the bargain. “
I’m going to take some of my own medicine and read that paragraph over and over again when I feel like I’ve fallen short as well as when I am rewarded with praise for my efforts. Whether I receive good reviews or bad reviews, I will continue to do what makes my heart sing. Continue doing actions that feel like the best thank you to the universe, that provide the most service. How those actions are received does not alter my value. I am grateful for my ‘bad review’ that reminded me of this very important lesson.
I’m going to India for the next 3 weeks and hope to learn a lot more about service and get even more clarity on what makes my heart sing. You won’t be hearing from me while I’m gone and I didn’t organize any guest bloggers this time. I look forward to sharing my India trip with you upon my return. Have beautiful Mondays!
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my childhood friends. It's about the season of Lent and the tradition of ‘making a sacrifice.’
“Instead of giving up something, do good works. Buy a bunch of diapers and donate them. Sadly, some folks with kiddos can't afford to buy them. You giving up chocolate solves nothing. - Bryan David Kearney
Now THAT is service!
This recipe has served me well over the years. It's a complete tribute to the kale salad at Gennaro's on the upper Westside of New York City. It is one of the easiest and tastiest things I make.
Raw Kale Salad
- 2 heads of Lacinato kale, washed and dried (also called Tuscan kale, or dinosaur kale)
- ½ cup grated ricotta salata cheese (similar to a dry feta-but a grated parmesan is the best substitution)
- ½ cup toasted pine nuts
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ cup dried currants
- salt and pepper
Strip the fibrous core from the leaves by grabbing the stem end and sliding the leaves off in the opposite direction. Gather the kale into a tight roll and chop into ribbons. Run the knife through again in the other direction until the ribbons are finely shredded. In a big bowl, add the kale, cheese, and nuts. Combine the remaining ingredients in a jar, sealed with a lid and shake vigorously. Pour the dressing into the bowl and toss completely coating the kale.
Cheryl Stockton provides an enormous service with her photography. Her images bring my food to life. Thank you Cheryl!