Common Denominator

August 3, 2019

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
~ Desmond Tutu


A note:  My summer has been a bit hectic thus far.  So, having not been able to find the time to write an original post for several weeks, I decided to do a summer rerun and share a post from July 30, 2013, the 3rd year of the blog, which is strangely relevant to current events.  The included recipe for Horiatiki (Greek Salad) Tacos is also one of my all-time faves.  I hope you enjoy this blast from The Philosopher’s Spoon’s not-too-distant past:


Both world and local news have been a bit intense recently, to say the least.  Times like these, when everyone feels just a little more fragile than usual, can put folks on edge and highlight the differences between us.

Last Thursday I awoke in a slight state of anxiety, a bit depressed by the events of the week.  That afternoon, while driving down a local street, I saw a young black cat lying in the middle of the road.  I pulled my car over to the side and got out to take a look at this poor kitty, who I assumed was dead.  As I bent over him, I realized that he was still breathing quite rapidly and his eyes were open, but unresponsive.  I screamed for help, as the cars waiting to pass on the road behind me began to honk.  I cautiously picked up the barely conscious kitty and moved him to the sidewalk.

Just then, a man pulled up next to me and got out of his car to look.  He offered to take the cat to the local emergency vet.  We carefully moved the cat to the back seat of the man’s car.  Then a woman who had seen us ran out from her house to tell us she had just called the local Humane Society and that they were on the way.  As we debated whether to wait for the technician or rush to the vet, the kitty miraculously regained consciousness and hopped up to the dashboard of the man’s car.  He must have been knocked unconscious and in a state of shock when I found him.  Now he seemed quite alert and able to move.  We all cried with joy.  When the Humane Society technician arrived, the woman offered her number in case the cat belonged to a neighbor and the man offered to adopt the kitty if it turned out he had no home.  I thanked everyone and left the scene, knowing the cat was in good hands.

Each of us came together on that street out of our love for animals.  None of us probably had much in common otherwise but we were able to save that little life because of what we shared.  Many things separate us as human beings, but when we focus on what unites us, rather than what divides us, we can come together to accomplish amazing things.  It’s simple mathematics:

Imagine three people, each from three different cultures, communities and economic backgrounds.  Let us represent them with the fractions 1/2, 1/3 and 1/6.  At first glance, there is no way for each of these three to come together.  However, if we look beyond the differences and instead look for a common denominator, we see that 1/2 becomes 6/12, 1/3 becomes 4/12 and 1/6 becomes 2/12.  And now 6/12, 4/12 and 2/12 can join together as 12/12 or One.  That One lives within each of our hearts, needing only to be recognized by ourselves and each other.

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Greek-style veggies, marinated feta and tortillas come together for Horiatiki Tacos with Marinated Feta.

Horiatiki Tacos with Marinated Feta
Greek Salad (Horiatiki Salata) makes a delicious filling for this super-tasty, virtually no-cook summer meal.  This is a vegetarian-friendly recipe, but you can add cooked shrimp as a variation for omnivores.  Make the Marinated Feta one day to one week ahead.


1 clove of garlic, smashed
1(15oz) can organic garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (plus more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
2 green onions, trimmed and chopped (green & white parts)
1 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 cup diced cucumber
2 cups diced ripe heirloom tomatoes
8 (approximately 7″) flour tortillas or lavash-style flatbreads
Marinated Feta (recipe below)

Optional: 1 (16oz) package of frozen, cooked, peeled, medium-sized tail-off shrimp, thawed.


In a large bowl, stir together garlic, beans, lemon juice and oregano.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove and discard garlic clove.  Add onions, bell pepper, cucumber and tomato (if you are using shrimp, add them here).  Stir and taste for seasoning.  Add more salt, pepper and lemon juice, if needed.  Set aside.

Heat tortillas over a low stove flame, using tongs to circulate the tortilla over the flame.  Turn when it begins to puff and then heat the other side (do not leave unattended!).  Alternatively, you can microwave tortillas in a microwave-safe plastic bag for about 30 to 60 seconds or until steaming.  Keep warm in a basket or bowl covered by a damp towel.

Serve filling alongside Marinated Feta and warm tortillas.  Have guests make their own tacos (use a slotted spoon to serve the salad) by filling the tortillas with some salad, topped with the Marinated Feta.

Serves 8 (more with shrimp added)


Marinated Feta
You will need a pint or quart-sized glass jar with a lid.

About 8oz Feta cheese, crumbled
1 or 2 small, whole hot dried chillies

Several sprigs of fresh dill
Several sprigs of fresh mint
Several sprigs of fresh rosemary (or sub some crumbled, dried rosemary)
Several fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Zest of one small lemon
Extra virgin olive oil to cover (about 1 & 1/2 cups)


Combine Feta, herbs and seasonings in jar.  Cover with oil.  Seal jar and shake gently.

Marinate in fridge several hours or overnight.  Shake a few times during marinating time.

Use leftover oil in jar to toss with cooked pasta, rice, salad or as a dip for bread.


One Response to “Common Denominator”

  1. Jordania

    Even more beautiful the second time around!