Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring is here....

How do I know this? Because there are so many yummy things at the Farmer's Market that I can nosh on. This past weekend, I went to the market to get some veggies for the next week and ended up with a full basket of goodies. For lunch, I ended up making a huge plate of salad. I cut fresh tender avocados, firm spicy radishs, juicy cucumbers and ripe tomatoes. I covered the whole thing with a few pepperonis, some hearts of palm and salty feta cheese.

It was the perfect salad to end the weekend on.

As I was cutting up the tomatoes, I was hit with a powerful scent memory from when I was growing up. Tomatoes and I have a long and serious relationship. From the first time I convinced my little sister to go out to my mom's garden with a salt shaker to now when I walk into a farmer's market I have loved the little jewels of tender flavor.

There is something earthy and homey about the scent of the tomatoes. They are so very tender but surprising resilient. It doesn't take much to bring out the flavor either. Just a tiny touch of firm pressure, a little seasoning and your hit with such strong wonderfully developed complex flavors. It really doesn't take much to open up the array of possibilities that a simple tomato offers.

When I was young, my mom planted tomatoes every year. There was nothing better than taking a salt shaker out to huge fenced in garden, stepping gingerly past the rows of squash, beans, corn, bell peppers and cucumbers to walk barefoot in the warm dirt to the tomato plants. Plucking one ripe, robust, red tomato straight from the vine, licking the warm flesh so the salt will stick and the biting into it like it's an apple is the definition of summer.

So when I got my veggie treat's home.... I couldn't help myself. I indulged my inner child, closing my eyes to imagine myself back in my childhood home. Where the air was sweeter, summer was infinite and my biggest concern was the tomato juice dripping down my chin in the garden at dusk.

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