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Authenticity in a Tomato

Yesterday I had the priviledge of visiting with one of my neighbors from our previous residence. If you’ve read the blog recently, you know that we moved out into the boonies and visitors are a welcome addition to our days of raising kids and chickens, cooking, landscaping 8 acres and trying to get inspired to write in the process.

So, when my neighbor revealed a sparkly bag with housewarming gifts, it wasn’t the nice bottle of wine that will go great with Lemon Chicken and Dill Cream Sauce or Herbed Salmon, nor was it the beautiful squash and zucchini she grew in her garden that made my heart skip…it was the beautiful bag of tomatoes.

I grew up in Southern California and my grandfather grew tomatoes on his back porch. I remember eating so many tomatoes that my mouth developed acid sores that stung for a good 24 hours after plunging myself into the pleasure of this delicacy. I’m so glad God puts these little “you’ve had too many” cautionary reminders into life’s experiences.

Now, if you are a gardener in the Northwest, you know that tomatoes are very difficult to grow here. There just isn’t enough intense heat to generate a juicy, red, sweet tomato…the way an authentic tomato is supposed to taste. These were not the tomatoes from the grocery store. I’m not sure what those red things are that they try to sell us, the sign says “Tomato” but they taste like plastic, and ruin Caprese salad. And so, this is why I was so excited for this rare delicacy: a beautiful handful of real, authentic tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest.

They inspired me to think about “Authenticity.” Our culture is so filled with temptations which appear to be the real thing, but upon indulging, end up being a phony replica of our intended desire. I can’t remember the last time, before the tomatoes, I looked at something or someone and thought about the word “Authentic.” I’m including the mirror in that last statement too. I want to be more “Authentic” but how?

If you have any ideas let me know…for now I will indulge in those juicy, sweet and real tomatoes…oops, they’re are a figment of my imagination now since I ate them all without abandon…no sores this time, though!

An Amateur Foodie

For some people, food is necessary for filling one’s stomach, thus achieving a “full” feeling that keeps them going until the next grumbling on the “empty” radar. For me, food is a pastime, a hobbie, an event even. I love learning about food, what other people think about certain food, reading books about food, preparing food, growing food, sharing food, and of course, eating food.

According to Wikipedia, foodies are “amateurs who simply love food consumption, study, preparation and news.” Gourmets are “epicures of refined taste.” This is not me. I have to ask my husband what my soup is missing. I seem to know it’s lacking, but in what I couldn’t say, (oh the parallels I could go into). I just know what I like, and hope my family likes it too.

Like most of us, my food memories stretch back into childhood. My mother made coffee cake on Saturday mornings and Friday nights were reserved for dinners out. I had lobster for the first time when I was really young…poor future dates…oh wait, I married my highschool sweetheart and he’s frugal-nevermind.

For the past couple of summers I’ve read a food book or two. Michael Pollan puts out some great food reads, The Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food. I have a couple of books about France and food is intertwined. So, as I was shopping yesterday (for food), a book captured my attention. A Homemade Life is a book about food and memories. Molly Wizenberg writes so well and delivers a recipe in each chapter. I’m on chapter three and can’t wait to try some of her amazing dishes and share them with friends and family. She also has a blog and you can link to it from this page on the left.

With seeds going in the ground and summer bbq season upon us, my mind is ready for heirloom tomato salad, crisp asparagus, bbq steak with gorgonzola cheese melted on top and flourless chocolate dessert with red wine reduction.

If you are a foodie and have a favorite recipe using green beans, I want to hear from you since my favorite way to prepare them is out of the can…no gourmets here!

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