Such an innocuous question, and yet somehow I struggled with my answer. The reason was that it was a few days before celebrating the 4th of July with my dad’s family, and I still hadn’t decided what to have for lunch. My aunt was bringing burgers for some other people and asked if she should bring one for me as well. The easy answer would have been “yes”, but somehow I wasn’t quite comfortable with that, so I told her I’d think about it.
That’s when I asked myself, do you want a burger?
I pictured the day as best I could from past experience. I knew we would be at the shelter of a nearby state park, that it was forecast to be a hot day (around 90), and clearly some people would be having burgers. I could picture the grill marks, imagine the smell and the juices of the meat combining with mustard and ketchup for a mouth-watering, tasty bite.
And yet – I’m not a huge red meat eater, and the fact that I had recently had some ground beef made this less tempting than it might have been. Plus, I’ll be going camping in a month, and I knew that I most enjoyed burgers in that setting, after a day of hiking.
In fact, I realized that the only reason I was thinking about it was because I felt oddly pressured by the holiday itself, the sense that I should be having something grilled to celebrate our Independence Day. Isn’t that, after all, what true Americans do?
So I considered grilling chicken (which is what my brother’s family did), but somehow that also wasn’t appealing. I tried to think about what I did want, regardless of the date. And then I knew.
I wanted a BLT salad. Specifically, a salad made with my own abundant butter lettuce, ripe tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market, bacon from happily raised animals, and some avocado. For me, that seemed like the perfect summer meal – light and cool but satisfying, sweet and salty and juicy and crunchy and creamy.
Happily, on the day itself, I was pleased with my choice. I was glad to have something cool, without worrying about standing over a hot grill in the already warm weather, and I enjoyed complementing the salad with watermelon and some cucumber. Everyone else seemed quite content with their grilled items, but I was just glad that I had taken the time to ask myself what I really wanted, and to be okay with the fact that it wasn’t a burger.