Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Seriously lets talk about this, cause its been foremost in my mind and my mouth for about 2 weeks now. After Mom and Dad sent a box to us about 10 days ago via a friend who happened to be traveling this way, they came themselves for a visit over the weekend. This time with a bigger box. The pride and joy of their garden by the river was overflowing with delicious potential.
Something that you need to understand is that my Dad giving us food, particularly fruits and vegetables, is a language of love. It's always been. You fell down and got hurt? Here, eat. You wrecked the car and I've already yelled at you for 3 days? Here, eat. Bad day? Here, eat. Lost the house you wanted to buy? Here, eat. Pregnant? Here, eat. Pregnant again? Here, eat. But the joy he finds in offering the fruits of his own labor is something all together different. I tried to get a quick shot of him with the glowing red beauties, but he barely let me get one before he invited anyone nearby to be in the picture with him. Then everyone makes like posing with the tomatoes is just what we wanted to do. Of course.
This little gathering went to the neighbors and likely I'll still need to take more to them later today. Our favorite way to eat them fresh, and the only way we ate them in my house growing up, is common Greek salad style. In most of Greece you would be hard pressed to find a leaf of lettuce served anywhere. The salad is always what some refer to as a village salad and no lettuce is permitted. Ours goes like this: fresh tomatoes peeled, cored and rough cut, large-chopped white onion, peeled & large-chopped cucumber, oregano (high mountain Greek is the best), salt, salt, salt, generous pour of olive oil (which lucky me gets from my dad's own olive trees near his home in Greece!-that's another post). Occasionally you would toss in a few Kalamata olives, and garnish with a large cut of feta. The most beautifully delicious part is the fresh mingling of juices and flavors at the bottom of the bowl which can only be eaten by the dunking of a (torn) piece of dense bread. Slicing even the best bread is completely missing the point of how to eat this. It must be torn, so that its a thick enough nugget to absorb the concoction at the bottom of the bowl. Bread has always been an eating utensil in our family.
Our tomatoes, however, have begun to outnumber the possible chances at fresh salads. So this morning once all the kids were off to their 3rd day of school, and the house was nice and quiet, I opened a window and began peeling, coring, chopping and cooking down. Maybe a soup. Perhaps just some sauce to freeze. Haven't decided yet. But the smell of the simmering sweet gifts coming from the kitchen and the song of the cicadas outside has me feeling pretty relaxed about the whole thing.