Friday, March 29, 2013

A Carrot For Estragon (Is That All There Is?)

A Short Excerpt from Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett  

Estragon: (violently). I'm hungry.
Vladimir: Do you want a carrot?
Estragon: Is that all there is?
Vladimir: I might have some turnips.
Estragon: Give me a carrot. (Vladimir rummages in his pockets, takes out a turnip and gives it to Estragon who takes a bite out of it. Angrily.) It's a turnip!
Vladimir: Oh pardon! I could have sworn it was a carrot. (He rummages again in his pockets, finds nothing but turnips.) All that's turnip. (He rummages.)  You must have eaten the last. (He rummages.) Wait, I have it. (He brings out a carrot and gives it to Estragon.) There, dear fellow.
(Estragon wipes the carrot on his sleeve and begins to eat it.) Make it last, that's the end of them.
Estragon: (chewing.) I asked you a question.
Vladimir: Ah.
Estragon: Did you reply?
Vladimir: How's the carrot?
Estragon: It's a carrot.

 A close reading of these lines from Beckett's iconic play reveals that Estragon is hungry enough to eat a carrot (though not a turnip) but he does so without enthusiasm. "Is that all there is?" he asks.  It seems that Estragon would prefer something more exciting to quiet his hunger while waiting for Godot.

Arriving home after a recent cross country flight I found that my vegetable drawer had little more to offer than a handful of carrots. Is that all there is? I thought.  Perhaps as hungry as Estragon,  I scrubbed,  trimmed, sliced and sauteed the carrots in olive oil. Sprinkled with a bit of sea salt, they were so sweetly satisfying to my traveler's hunger that I've repeated the exercise several times since, even when more exotic fare was available.

Here is my offering, a carrot recipe inspired by Estragon, who may still be hungry, and who is certainly still waiting for Godot.

Carrots Sauteed in Olive Oil

4 or 5 medium carrots, scrubbed and trimmed
1- 2  tablespoons olive oil
sea salt to taste

Slice the carrots into diagonal pieces as seen in the photo above. Heat a heavy skillet, add olive oil and saute the carrots on medium heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more olive oil if needed to keep carrots from sticking. The carrots will begin to soften and turn golden brown around the edges.  After about five minutes, taste one of the carrot slices. It should be almost tender but not crunchy. When done, remove carrots from heat, sprinkle with a little sea salt and serve immediately.

Samuel Beckett (1906- 1989) was born in Ireland and lived most of his life in France. He originally wrote Waiting For Godot in French (En Attendant Godot) and later translated the play into English. It is considered one of the most significant English language plays of the 20th century. Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969.