Have you ever yearned for freedom? Not the Count of Monte Cristo, I’m free and hell bound kind of freedom, nor the Nelson Mandela, Rebirth of Hope kind either. I’m talking about a freedom of a less significant kind. A silly, wasteful, icantreallybebothered one. You know, the kind where nothing stops you from sitting there looking at your toes for 3 days. Well, 5 weeks ago I handed in my resignation. This Monday was my first day as a free, unemployed man, and I have to tell you, so far, my toes look great!
Some time ago, I decided I need a short career break; a month or two where I don’t have to walk into an office. Not that I hated my job or the people who work there; I actually enjoyed both. I love .Net development as much as your next geek does, and I also consider at least half of my (old) team as good friends (love you guys). But I just needed a break, some time for myself. To do some travelling. To sleep in when I felt like it. To get my car serviced. To take my 5 month old daughter to her swimming lessons on a Wednesday – she’s about to start crawling by the way, God help us. Let’s face it, sometimes, you just need a change – I needed mine and now it’s here. Though not as redeeming as escaping Shawshank and not as poignant as William Wallace’s great moment, my freedom somehow feels just as important.
Yes, you’re right, I am worried about income. Somehow, I had never associated my work with the paycheck I got. Money seemed incidental to employment, appearing in my bank account as matter of monthly habit, though now I know better. But before the realities of a diminishing bank account start hitting hard, it’s time to celebrate. Samkeh harra, or chilli fish, is one of Lebanon’s celebratory dishes and one of only a handful of fish dishes to ever come out of Lebanon. Think rich, fatty fish (salmon in this case), roasted until just done, smothered with tahini and covered with one of the simplest and best flavour combinations to ever join forces – fresh coriander, roast walnuts and almonds, lemon juice, onions, chilli and olive oil. This is a dish worthy of its own celebration, but is also perfect as one to mark my achievement. On Sunday, I sat and ate with the sun on my shoulders and felt like a free man.
Do you need a career break, or have you taken one already? Share your story and your celebration dish by leaving a comment.
Samke Harra – Chilli Fish Recipe
Salmon: 4 kilo salmon, skin scored, rubbed with salt, pepper and olive oil, covered with aluminium foil at 200c and baked until done (1 hour approx)
Tahini sauce: Mix tahini (1.5 cups), juice of 1 lemon, salt, a crushed garlic clove and add enough water until you have a thick homogenous sauce. Adjust flavours to taste
The herb and nut layer
- 1 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 cup roasted walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
- 1/2 small onion, finely diced
- Juice of half a lemon
- 4 tabelspoons of olive oil
- Chilli, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Mix the herb and nut layer’s ingredients and set aside for 10 minutes
- Remove the skin from the fish, but keep it whole
- Spread some of the tahini on the top of the fish to cover the side completely
- Spread the herbs and nuts to completely cover the tahini
- Serve with a sense of freedom and a beer