The summer after my freshman year of college, a new friend came home with me for the weekend before flying home to Colorado. I remember being very anxious about her staying with my mom and I. At some point during my senior year of high school, my mom had to sell our house, and we subsequently moved into a small apartment above her hair salon. As uncomfortable as I was about this, I was also a self-consumed teenager who probably spent more time thinking about superficial things. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my small town didn’t vary a great deal economically: most people were somewhere between lower middle class and upper middle class.
After I left for college, my family’s economic standing became more apparent to me. I went to a private liberal arts college, and the majority of kids were from upper middle class and upper class homes. Although this divide between the kids who came from money and those of us who were there largely due to financial aid was pretty obvious to me, I tried to not let that get in the way of who I became friends with. The girls on my dorm floor were all great, and we all got along really well for the most part. However, I was always very aware of the economic differences between us. Something as simple as, “Who wants to go to McDonalds for dinner tonight?” would make me extremely uncomfortable; I barely had enough money to buy toiletries. I rarely, if ever, talked about my economic background my first year of college. I was too ashamed, and too young to know that it did not define me.
The girl who came home with me that first weekend after our freshman year was a very sweet and sincere person. She was actually the very first friend I made at college. I remember walking across the parking lot with her to the freshman orientation and thinking that Colorado was a long ways from Minnesota. We had gotten to know each other pretty well that first year, and we had had many quintessential college conversations discussing things like our families, our goals, and our fears. But still, the thought of her seeing where I lived paralyzed me with fear. I remember spending a lot of time that weekend watching TV with her, simply because I didn’t know what to say and felt like I needed to explain my situation to her, maybe even apologize for not having a more “comfortable” home. When I look back now, I wish I could tell my 19-year-old self to be proud of where she is from, and that she has nothing to be ashamed of.
I have come to the conclusion that you can add bacon and raisins to any vegetable, and you will have a delicious, and still fairly healthy, meal. This coleslaw is no exception. Make it while it’s still warm enough for a cool salad.
Broccoli Coleslaw with Bacon and Raisins
Adapted from Food & Wine
Yield: 6 servings
6 slices of bacon (4 oz.)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
Sea salt and pepper
1 large head of broccoli (1 1/4 lbs.), cut into bite-size florets and thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Set a rack over a baking sheet. Arrange the bacon slices on the rack in a single layer. Bake for about 25 minutes, until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels, then coarsely chop.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the vinegar and sugar; season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the broccoli, raisins, onion and bacon and toss to coat evenly.
4. Transfer the coleslaw to a serving bowl.