Wednesday, 12 March 2014 14:29

Condiments don’t make great paint colours

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It always happens this time of year.

It’s March, but still winter. The sky remains more grey than blue.
The grime at the sides of the roads is piling up to the point where our quiet street now looks more like a litter box than a serene place to stroll.
It’s bland. Blah. 
So, to add a little colour, while warding off scurvy, I’m peeling and munching on mandarin oranges (chain-eating them, really), even though I’m still sick of them from Christmas. Mostly I’m eating them for the colour.
Colour has been much on my mind over the last several months.
Unable to encourage spring to start before it will, and admittedly a little lost in a spate of situational gloom, I’ve been looking, squinting when necessary, for something to catch my eye and suggest the beginning of an end.
It’s no secret that these last 12 months have had a pallor over them, especially so over this last part of winter. But, after the cold and snow, I keep being reminded, whether I want to hear it or not, that spring will come and cast a new light.
Meanwhile, while I’m waiting for flowers to push up from the soil, and waiting for the seasonal fruit to come, it’s also beginning to look as though some of our circumstances (perhaps even the most stubborn among them), have been shifting under the soil all along.
Change is coming. Though it’s hard to trust, and, for a time, I admit that I expected it never would.
 While we wait and hope, however, we’ve decided that it’s possible to coax some colour indoors.
Not by forcing bulbs, as I am a certified plant killer, and had to come to terms with my affliction long ago.
Rather, this year’s new colour is coming from a paint can.
Five years ago, you see, when we bought our townhome, I made a mistake.
Having previously owned a condo, which began with a blank slate of builder’s beige walls the same sickly tinge as warm chicken skin, and finally sold with a palette of my favourite blues, greens and neutrals, this time I decided to be bold.
Sticking with greens, blues and neutrals, I chose darker tints. More daring, I thought at the time.
Several of the colours worked very well. But the green for the master bedroom, which I had at first imagined was sophisticated, turned out to be the colour of overcooked relish. Or, as I later came to think of it, “Seasick Crocodile.”
 Nothing, not even white curtains and other linens could brighten the overall murk.
While painting may be the easiest way to change a room, it does require more than a slap and a dash. And so I lived with it.
Until now.
Which has taken a toll.
Knowing from the mistaken, or inherited, colours of other homes, I knew already that I couldn’t tolerate any kind of Ketchup Red, McDonald’s Yellow, or anything that could be compared to a condiment.
No Mayonnaise White.
No Dijon.
No Sweet Chili Heat.
No Tartar Sauce for fish.
 Instead, colours that fish swim in. Colours that make the air feel oxygenated. Colours that play with, instead of suck up, the light.
So, we said good-bye to the Relish/Seasick Crocodile (Tate Olive on the Benjamin Moore spectrum) and painted it over with a refreshing and watery blue from their Heritage Collection.
 In the future, I’m sure I’ll remember that condiments are better left in the door of the fridge.



Homemade Tartar Sauce (for fish)

(Makes about 2 1/2 cups)
2 cups light mayonnaise
1/4 cup banana pepper rings, finely chopped
1/4 cup mini dill pickles, finely chopped
4 stalks pickled asparagus, split lengthwise, then finely sliced
1 Tbs hot sauce

 In a small bowl, fold peppers, pickles, asparagus and hot sauce into mayonnaise. Serve with fish. Keep refrigerated in an airtight jar or container.

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