August is mad at me. It’s given me tomatoes, so many tomatoes, and celery and peppers and new potatoes and big, crowded farmers’ markets, and I can’t help but feel that I’m abusing the produce. I have produce abuse guilt.
I’m not smashing it or anything, I’m cooking with it, playing with my food instead of just eating it.
This is the time of year when I should be letting the ground guide me. But instead of taking cues from the stuff that lands on my counter, eating the same simple dishes day after day (potatoes roasted with sea salt, raw zucchini with lemon and garlic, simple carrot salads), I’m making August’s bounty a victim of hogwash, cornering it into new, more creative recipes when the ingredients should star as themselves, plain on a plate. I’m driving myself crazy.
I’ve made a tomato line-up on my counter with the fruits of my neighbor’s labors. Which one of you did this to me?, I’ve asked. In December, when I decided to write a recipe a day, which one of you forgot to remind me how little food needs to be changed in August? They’re not talking.
Why do I feel like I’m having a hard time explaining this?
Please forgive me, if you’ve noticed. I do respect my produce, and hereby promise to use what’s bountiful in the simplest of ways next year, when this silly project is over. Next August will be for eating, not recipe writing. And these here tomatoes will not be unnecessarily harmed. Tonight I’ll set this line-up out on the porch on a cutting board, and we’ll have Tomato Tuesday, like we used to do every week on Cape Cod this time of year. We’ll dip them into good olive oil, shower them with salt, and shove fat new slices into our mouths with oily fingers before we’ve finished chewing the last bite. There will be Session stubbies (Session is the official beer of the summer of 2007 at our house), and much discussion about house painting tactics. We’ve been prepping during the evenings this week, and we’ll be starting for real on Friday night. Labor Day weekend, don’t you think it’s fitting?
Here’s how the voting was going, by the way, as of yesterday morning:
Overseas leads, by a small margin, and with much commentary. Or so I thought; the tomato neighbor just called to tell me there’s been a rush on French Riviera, but I haven’t been outside yet to check.
C’mon over and say hi. Or sit on your own porch, with good heirloom tomatoes, if you’re lucky enough to have them, and appreciate how easy it is to eat in August. Soon it will be September. Then October, and August will be gone, and the farmers’ markets will be filled with things that need to be skinned and cracked, cut and cooked, somehow changed before ingestion.
And then I’ll feel really guilty.