Variety is the spice of life, they say. (Although I've never been able to quite figure out who "they" are. "They" do come across as rather opinionated, don't they?) That must explain why I like to try new things in the kitchen. Take last Friday, for example. The Best Husband Ever and I were invited to a "thank you and farewell" potluck dinner thrown in honor of a lovely man who is closing his much-beloved coffee shop. Needless to say, coffee was served, as were enchiladas, cookies, and a variety of salads.

Being a salad lover myself, I decided to contribute something a little . . . different on the vegetable front. At the time I had a quickly ripening spaghetti squash languishing on the top of my refrigerator. Usually such I either microwave or bake the squash until I can scoop out the stringed flesh with a fork, and then toss it with some mozzarella cheese and spaghetti sauce for a light and tasty alternative to pasta. I thought it would be hard to get such a dish to the potluck warm, however, so I decided to try my hand (and fork) at a spaghetti squash salad. The best thing that I can say for the result is that it was definitely different.

After harvesting the squash flesh, I tossed it in a bowl with some broccoli and wisps of peeled carrot (which actually looked quite lovely as they fluttered over the squash strands). Thinking that the concoction lacked something, I decided to add some balsamic vinegar. Bad move. The squash was still warm from the microwave, and the addition of the vinegar along with some black pepper) turned it into a damp lump of mush. Not so appetizing. I threw it in the fridge (and, later, the freezer in an attempt to speed things along) and hoped for the best.

"The best" was a tepid and still damp lump of mush. Even I, the greater lover and soliloquizer of both salads and squash, was put off by the mess. The hostess of the party accepted the contribution with her typical beautiful grace, but I don't think a single person touched the squash salad. My feelings weren't hurt, though, because I passed on the thing as well. Sometimes our most well-intentioned culinary adventures turn south. I suppose that it's more about the journey, though: the process and the enjoyment of the manipulation of food. So I will keep at it, and savor my squash, sauce, and cheese with even greater relish than before.

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