Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.


Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Laurie Colwin and tomatoes

When depressed, I reach for a Laurie Colwin book. Often the reached-for book is one of her collected writings on food, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. I have read, and re-read, these two volumes so many times their bindings are beginning to fail. I kept them in bed with me the night Hockeyman drove away from our grad school apartment to his first real job, leaving me hysterical and weepy with two frantic kittens. I read them in the early mornings over breakfast, groggily dreaming of Minorcan vacations and invalid loaves as the gray daylight grudges through the kitchen curtains.

I also read them while consulting recipes--biscuits, whole wheat baguette, Aunt Gladys' Beef.

This morning, before my appointment with orthodontic assault, I read, again, about tomatoes. This essay appears in More Home Cooking, published posthumously in 1993. In it she notes that only farm stand tomatoes are worth eating, and come September, we must all lay in a supply of good canned tomatoes and wait until next summer. This was long before Walmart carried organic, everyone knew who Alice was, or the New York Times wrote admiringly of tomato tastings.

I am lucky enough to get Capay and Frog Hollow Farms tomatoes in my farm box. I have never sliced them into wine glasses and sniffed at them, seeking out scents like vanilla or dirty feet. These are fresh tomatoes! We've been waiting all damn year for these!

So I slice them, fan them across the Italian glass plate I received for a wedding present, and sprinkle them with fleur de sel. Sometimes I shave a little parmiggiano reggiano over them, or fresh mozzarella. Basil, if we have some. Then I try not to eat an entire plateful before Hockeyman gets home from work and joins me at table.

A month of rains hurt the tomato harvest; last year at this time tomatoes were nearly something we took for granted. This year we have had only two farm boxes with tomatoes so far; two weeks ago we feasted on delicious Cherry Sungolds. Last Friday brought four large, slightly mealy tomatoes that went soft too soon. The farm's website promises more tomatoes tomorrow, and I can only hope they are as rapturously wonderful as last summer's, when we could still sort of pretend global warming would never affect us.


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