by Constantine P. Cavafy

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

 

 

Alice’s is a great little Chinese restaurant around the corner from my house in San Francisco. My family always gets takeout because it makes eating at home with a four-year-old easier. But on a recent school holiday, my son and I decided to go out for a “date lunch”. Because we picked Alice’s I learned that they add iceberg lettuce to their fried rice, but only when you eat in. Shredded blades of iceberg are stirred into the rice just before it’s plated. The beautiful color, crunchy texture, and juiciness turned this side dish into the star of the meal. The Chinese have long been cooking with a variety of lettuce called san choi in Cantonese (luo kui in Mandarin), which looks like romaine but resembles iceberg in texture. The leaves are stirred into soups—like West Lake Fish Soup—for texture and color, stir-fried with soy sauce and sesame oil for a quick and economical side dish, or added to a dish when it needs to feed a few more. No matter what the reason, it’s always good. You can bet that the next time I make Fried Rice (Vol. Nº 6, The Grocery Store, page 63) for dinner, I’ll be sure to add a handful of shredded green goodness to it.—Julia Lee