While watching the new season of Queer Eye over the weekend, there was an episode focused on a young climate change activist that felt especially timely. One quote during the episode that stuck out to me, from Karamo, was along the lines of, “if you want to devote your life to helping people and creating change, you have to take care of yourself.”
Most of us are not conditioned to think about privilege, activism, and allyship on a daily basis in the way we have been this last week, and while that in itself is a form of privilege, many of my conversations with friends this weekend centered on people feeling burned out after one week of using their voice and educating themselves on racism. One week. Now just imagine the weariness felt by those who have been experiencing racism every day of their lives. This thread on Instagram reinforced the idea of taking care of yourself and remembering that rest is not the enemy of change.
It feels weird to be talking about a salad recipe right now. But what I also realize is that in order to take care of others and advocate for the change we need, we need to take care of ourselves so we can fight the good fight in the long run too. I don’t say this to minimize anything that’s going on right now, but it’s also been a realization over this last week. The advocacy and allyship work we’re doing right now is a marathon. We must also re-charge our batteries so we can make this work for the long haul.
I take care of myself through food. I need that moment of respite in my day, to focus on just one thing and fill my battery so I can continue doing the work that needs to be done.
I’m finding energy in foods that remind me of home. Mangoes especially, were such an integral part of my childhood. Our family would pile into the car and drive out to the Indian stores in Houston to pick up boxes of the Alphonso mangoes that are shipped to the States from India, and remained a permanent resident of our kitchen counter for weeks until the next restock. My dad eats them with a spoon straight out of the skin; my mom likes them with a little chaat masala. When I eat mangoes now, I’m taken home, and I love finding new ways to incorporate them into my meals. And this salad feels like an embodiment of who I am: part American, part Indian, both parts integral to making this what it is.
This salad is a play on my favorite ingredients, mangos and paneer, plus avocado. (Because avocado makes everything better.) Unfortunately I ran out of paneer a few weeks into quarantine and my local grocery store doesn’t carry it. So I’ve turned to a substitute in feta that, while doesn’t fill the paneer void entirely, works in a pinch. I’m craving the light and fresh foods that make me feel the same, and this is just a simple mash up of really good ingredients that will make you feel really good too.
So let’s take care of ourselves, recharge, and continue fighting the good fight.