I woke up thinking about tomatoes.
It all started the night before. It was Friday, of course (inspired things always happen on Fridays), and Logan and I had enjoyed a full day of lounging bliss. We usually eat lunch rather late on the weekends (it makes me feel so European) and so it wasn’t until 9:30 that my belly started rumbling for supper. Usually when this happens my heart sinks, because it means I haven’t planned for supper yet and it’ll probably be another pb&j. However, like I said, it was Friday and Friday’s are inspired.
Inside my fridge I found all the makings of an omelet. There were crisp, sweet red peppers, pungent scallions, and on the counter by the window was a bundle of juicy tomatoes on the vein, ripening to succulent perfection. Now, the omelet itself turned out to be more of a scramble, but the ingredients were so good that I didn’t add a thing to it, not even when Logan tried to force Emeril’s down my throat. (He thinks everything’s better with Emeril’s.) It was a happy moment, eating my omelet by the light of a dim lamp, late at night in my cozy house robe.
The next morning I woke up thinking of tomatoes.
My dad always had a big garden. Once, he dumped about a ton of rotten soybeans over the surface of the whole thing. The garden was feet deep in the dreadful smelling stuff and he swore that it would be the best fertilizer anyone had ever known. My sisters and I lined up at the edge of the garden, covering our noses, and looked disbelievingly at my dad. The next year nothing even popped its head out of the soil, charred black by the nasty stuff. But the year after that…the year after that Dad’s tomato plants were ten feet tall. You’ve never seen anything like it. Gorgeous, vibrant bulbs of red, taut and shining in the sun. I used to run outside in the afternoon, barefoot and in cutoffs, and break off a tomato for a snack. I’d cut it up in a bowl, still warm from the sunshine, and bath it in creamy Ranch.
In the winter, there would be tomato bushes in the green house, with tiny fruit like the ornaments on a Christmas tree. During our morning break, my sisters and I would sneak inside and eat them right off the bush, like pieces of candy inside the Willy Wonky factory. I remember them being extraordinarily sweet, as though all the flavor in a big tomato was concentrated in that tiny pop of color.
There are some flavors that are so deeply embedded in my psyche that they cease to be flavors and instead become emotions. The taste of a ripe, sweet tomato is actually the feeling of summer, of stolen moments, of childhood, of a happy life.
I guess I really like tomatoes.
What food do you really, really, I mean REALLY like?