Think international for dining at the senior center

Martius, the first month of the Roman calendar, was named for Mars, the god of war, and evolved into our March. In that beloved, coming-of-age-story “Anne of Green Gables,” it was still winter on Prince Edward’s Island when Anne Shirley’s birthday arrived every March.

Note: On March 11, 1888, in the Great Blizzard of 1888, a 50-inch snowfall paralyzed much of the East Coast. On Oct. 1, 1888, the first issue of the National Geographic Society magazine described this storm, with pictures.

For Emily Dickinson, March was not about war or winter. She notes that March brings a light like no other time of year, a color “that science cannot overtake/but human nature feels”:

“Dear March — Come in”
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me.
I have so much to tell.

Read the rest of her poem, and you’ll see what she says about April.

Meanwhile, volunteer cooks at the Charlotte Senior Center echo Dickinson and call out, “Come in!”

They also have “so much” to offer: all that good food combined with good conversation at Monday Munch.

For the next two meals, think international, with menus offering Irish, Greek and Mexican fare.

John Evelyn, seventeenth century founding Fellow of the Royal Society, was credited with involvement in two major innovations, the icehouse and the pressure cooker. He was also a great gardener and the author of a “A Discourse on Forest Trees.” He is best known for his diaries. In addition to describing Oliver Cromwell’s career and the execution of Charles I, he wrote quite a lot about salads.

In his 1699 book, “Acetaria: A Discourse on Sallets,” Evelyn tried to encourage his readers to eat fresh salad greens. Historians note that he did not meet with much success. But he persevered, writing that “roots, stalks, leaves, buds, flowers and fruits can be boiled, baked, pickled or otherwise disguised by skillful cooks.” He gives specific details on growing, preparing and eating a wide variety of plant life.

Rest assured: salads at Monday Munch at the Charlotte Senior Center need no disguise. Munches on March 11 and 18 definitely put a different spin on the phrase “salad days.” First recorded by Shakespeare in 1606, he based the phrase on the notion of “green,” meaning a time of youthful inexperience.

Inexperience is the last word you’d apply to the cooks at the Charlotte Senior Center, so let’s just start with a nod to their offerings of greenest green and Irish flag salads at March meals.

While greenest of green offers visions of great green lushness, Irish flag actually offers green plus orange and white.

Pleasing and patriotic, this salad, served in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, offers “hats off” to the national flag of Ireland. Frequently referred to as “the tricolor,” this flag’s vertical bands of green, white and orange represent Irish nationalism, the Protestant minority and lasting peace between the two.

Although the flag had been used for some time, it was officially presented to the public in 1916 and in 1937 formally confirmed by the new constitution of Ireland. The salad in its honor features greens, orange fruit and white cheese.

So do follow Emily Dickinson’s call to “come in” to discover just what orange items await you, as well as what constitutes the “greenest” of greens.

And that’s not all. In addition to those salads, come enjoy Mexican chicken soup and lemony chicken with spinach and potato stew.

The Mexican chicken soup comes with the enthusiasm of none other than the Barefoot Contessa, and the lemony chicken with spinach and potato stew received five-star ratings from cooks who tried the recipe at New York Times Cooking.

Plus, you’ll have your share of the ever-popular homemade desserts.

Monday Munch
Monday, March 11, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Mexican chicken soup, the greenest green salad and homemade dessert.

Monday Munch
Monday, March 18, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Lemony Greek chicken with spinach and potato stew, Irish flag salad and homemade dessert.

Reminder about Age Well offerings: You need to register by Monday for the Thursday Grab & Go Meals. Email or phone 802-425-6345.

On Monday, March 11, you can register for Age Well restaurant tickets with Kerry Batres.

Age Well restaurant tickets
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Stop by the Charlotte Senior Center to talk with our Age Well representative about the restaurant ticket program that can be used for meals at participating restaurants.

And now, to draw on a couple of popular Irish good wishes:

  • May your heart be light and happy, may your smile be big and wide and may your pockets always have a coin or two inside.
  • May the wind always be at your back.

Finally, enjoy “While Irish Eyes Are Smiling”.

Note: “Goldilocks and Just One Bear,” just acquired from The Flying Pig, turns out to be too large for the Little Free Library at the Grange. If you know a child age 3-10 who knows the original tale about Goldilocks’ encounter with the three bears and might enjoy an update, contact me for the book.