One of the most notable things about the British psyche is its obsession with the weather. It's not an idle chit-chat conversation point, either, but a topic of great interest. Being American, it took time to grow accustomed to weather talk being a highlight of an exchange as opposed to a sign that conversation has hit a dead end. It's not just about conversation, however, as the weather here extends beyond that into an almost comical battle-for-control relationship with outdoor life.
My theory is that Brits conceive of weather as a force manipulated by their wardrobe choices rather than a system to dictate appropriate dress. Allow me to explain.
Come that first moderately warm day of late winter/early spring (and by "warm" I mean the sun is out and it's not raining) winter coats are shed and replaced with light rainproof outerwear. This is regardless of temperature. The sky could be throwing it down the rest of the month, complete with chilly winds and general misery, but damnit it's spring so you will dress in prescribed seasonal clothing!
Once summer is here the phenomenon grows to often absurd levels. So what if it's only 12 degrees (just under 54 F) in July? It's July and therefore I must wear almost nothing. See, my thought would be to wear the skimpy sundress if it's warm outside; here you wear the skimpy sundress to make it warm outside.
Furthermore, I often see people wearing swimsuits out and about in my town. I live 30 miles from the sea and very few Brits have pools (very few). I'm curious if they've had any luck bringing the beach that much further inland as a result of personal attire.
My favourite is late fall, when it's drab, the days are getting darker, and it's genuinely time to pack away the summer shorts. But what's the point when you still have a perfectly serviceable midriff-trim fringed cami to call forth summer's sweltering rays (people practically die when it hits 70 F here)?
Anyhow, it's been a bit of a hit and miss summer here in the Southeast, not unsurprising given recent years, but in the true spirit of being British (did I mention I'm a citizen now?) I'm going to behave as if it's summer. You know what they say: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
So I'm going to keep avoiding work, spend as many days out as much as possible before Autumn creeps in, and eat as many summer salads as I can before my imagination can no longer cope with the defense mechanism that keeps me from the truth: it's cold and England will never be a tropical country.
Without further ado, a salad recipe (if you can't be fussed to marinate tofu then buy a good, firm, flavoured tofu to use instead).
Tofu Steak Salad with Mango Lime Dressing
- After pressing the tofu, slice it into six approximate ½ inch slabs, and then cut each slice corner to corner (to make triangles). Lay the slices in the casserole dish.
- Add all of the remaining tofu steak ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Once it boils reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Strain the hot marinade over the casserole dish and leave the tofu to marinate in the broth for at least a couple of hours (or overnight).
- To make the dressing, blend all of the ingredients together using a spice mill, a pestle and mortar, or just cut everything up super tiny and leave the flavours to get jiggy with each other for awhile.
- Preheat a grill pan to medium heat, spray it with some oil, and slap the tofu pieces on. Cook them for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until you see the characteristic seered black marks (or "yum lines" as I call them).
- To cook the onion and asparagus, you can either fire up the wok or cook them on the same grill pan. Re-spray with some oil and pop 'em on that hot surface, turning frequently to cook all sides (or if using a wok, stir fry them).
- To serve, place a couple of handfuls of lettuce on each plate, top with the cooked veg and radishes, followed by 4 slices of tofu per plate (make smaller portions for smaller sides). Drizzle dressing over to suit, and garnish with some roughly chopped coriander leaf.