Bulgur's 15 Minutes of Fame

by Susan Russo
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plumber 2Catastrophe struck the other day. My kitchen drain backed up into the bathtub. Unfortunately the last thing I had cooked and washed down the sink was beets. Do you know what a white bathtub filled with red beet juice and bits of floating beet looks like? Let’s just say what follows will NOT be a recipe involving beets.

I’m truly dangerous with power tools (even the Cuisinart is off limits for me), so I called the plumber. The guy who showed up looked like your typical plumber—clean cut, with a baseball hat and sturdy boots. He began snaking the kitchen pipe, and I went into the next room. Minutes later, I could hear emanating from under the kitchen sink: “Nothing you can do cause I’m stuck like glue to my guy, my guy.”Is he singing “My Guy”? “No handsome face could ever take the place of my guy, my gu-y-y-y.” Yup. He sure is. The rendition continued replete with the backup chorus.

Now, I’ve heard of The Singing Detective but not the singing plumber. I got to talking to him, and it turns out he’s more than a singing plumber. I learned that he really wants to write science fiction novels and that plumbing just pays the bills. That’s the thing about L.A. -- so many people here aren’t what they seem. You think the plumber is just the plumber, but he’s an aspiring writer. Or take my cable guy who told me that his real vocation is poker and that he had even appeared on ESPN in a championship poker series. Then there was the shuttle bus driver who animatedly described attending a Donald Trump seminar. He said driving allowed him to pursue his real career goal: real estate.

So many people living here aspire to something else, which got me to thinking. Are they, in their constant search for something better, setting themselves up for disappointment? Or, are they the embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit, which makes this area so dynamic? Perhaps in a city, renown for glamour and celebrity, it’s reflective of a desire to capture that elusive 15 minutes of fame.

Who knows what will happen to any of them or to us. What I do know, is that since moving here, my house calls have gotten a lot more interesting.

Since I couldn’t use my sink until the following morning, my dinner options were slim. This bulgur salad was made from common ingredients in my pantry and fridge and didn’t require any cooking. And you gotta love that!

In case you’re not familiar with bulgur, it’s a chewy, nutty grain that’s ideal for vegetarians because it’s super high in fiber and protein and gets along well with so many veggies, fruits, nuts, and herbs. So, feel free to experiment with whatever is in your pantry.

bulgurBulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Cranberries, and Toasted Almonds
Makes 2 servings.

½ cup dry bulgur
1 cup water
1 tsp olive oil
½ cup chickpeas
1/8 cup dried cranberries and/or raisins
1/8 cup toasted almonds, chopped
¼ teaspoon coriander
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1-2 tsp fresh lime juice
A handful of fresh mint leaves, torn into small pieces
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Some salt, to taste

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil; add bulgur, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed and bulgur is soft. Place cooked bulgur in a bowl and add remaining ingredients; toss well to coat.

Susan Russo is a free lance food writer in San Diego, California. She publishes stories, recipes, and photos on her cooking blog, <Food Blogga and is a regular contributor to NPR’s <Kitchen Window. She is also the author of  Recipes Every Man Should KnowRigatoni with Pancetta and The Encyclopedia of SandwichesRigatoni with Pancetta.

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