Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Morning Thanks--tomatoes


Garrison Keillor says that life in the out here in the Upper Midwest, including the our sub-zero cold sieges, is somehow made tolerable by the golden blessing of sweet corn every July. He's got a point, although this year--and I'm not sure why--we didn't overindulge as we normally do. Maybe we're just getting old.

I'm being wholesale with the editorial we.  My wife, who was born and reared out here on all this rich soil, doesn't lust after Corn Country Gold like I do. When I was kid in Wisconsin--when the sweet corn wasn't nearly as sweet as it is today (candy corn is vastly more candy than corn)--the only item on the menu for at least a half-dozen suppers was the corn-on-the-cob. That's it--nothing else. No matter, everyone was thrilled. These days I need a sandwich too, but not much of one, maybe a dinner roll with hard salami; I can still eat far more sweet corn than I should.

But the other icon of pure garden holiness, come late summer, is tomatoes. I never was an real tomato aficionado, but there's nothing "dog days" about late summer if we're having bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. An ex-students from the Caribbean used to maintain that I'd never tasted a real banana because I'd never taken one right off the tree.  I believe her. People who don't grow tomatoes have never tasted a real tomato either. Believe me, we've arrived at the glory days of fat red excess right now, and I'm sinning boldly.

I've got a friend who's a fiend. Once tomatoes come ripe, he eats them for every meal in embarrassing quantities, day after day after day until his exit door gets so wretched he simply can't go on without excruciating pain. Once it heals, he says, he starts in again. That's extreme.

But I've grown to love them with just about everything on the table, and it's their time right now. My son-in-law put up a little garden in his bright and sunny backyard, stuck in some good plants that turned into a jungle of bountiful delight, a treasure island back there beside the kids' swingset. We've been eating tomatoes--big and small--ever since and can't get enough of them.

This morning at five I got up and took this plate of 'em out of the oven.  My wife, ever-so meticulously, slices the cherry tomatoes (they ought to call them "tomato cherries" they're so sweet) in half, baptizes them in some tasty herbal ointment, and sticks 'em in the oven for six hours. You read that right--six hours.  I just now took 'em out.

They're fabulous. I honestly can't say more. Anybody who thinks Midwestern food is bland hasn't popped one of these or picked a couple off a thick mound of sweet mozzarella aboard a homemade pizza.

I can't fault Keillor--sweet corn in a marvelous blessing.  But with the sharp smell of these little guys still in the air, this morning's thanks is a piece of cake--tomatoes.  They're a real gift. 

Garrison Keillor likes to say that a siege of sub-zero cold, come winter, is made somehow tolerable in the Upper Midwest as long as you can remember the glories of sweet corn.  There is no greater blessing bestowed upon prairie dwellers than summer's sweet corn. 

He's got a point, although this year--and I'm not sure why--we didn't overindulge as we normally do. Maybe we're just getting old.

I'm being wholesale with the editorial we.  My wife, who was born and reared out here on all this rich soil, doesn't lust after Corn Country Gold like I do. When I was kid in Wisconsin--when the sweet corn wasn't nearly as sweet as it is today (candy corn is vastly more candy than corn)--all we had for a meal was corn-on-the-cob, and everyone was thrilled.  These days I need a sandwich too, but not much of one, maybe a dinner roll with hard salami; but I can eat far more sweet corn than I should.

But the other item of pure holiness, come August, is tomatoes. I never was a real aficionado, but there's nothing "dog days" about late summer if we're having bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. One of my ex-students, from the Caribbean, claims that I've never tasted a real banana.  I believe her.  People who don't grow tomatoes have never tasted a real tomato either.  These are the glory days of fat red sinful excess.

I've got a friend who's a fiend.  He says once tomatoes come ripe, he eats them for every meal in embarrassing quantities, day after day after day until his exit door gets so sore he simply can't go on without excruciating pain.  Once it heals, he says, he goes right back at it. That's extreme.

But I've grown to love them with just about everything on the table, and it's their time right now.  My son-in-law put up a little garden in his bright and sunny backyard, stuck in some good plants that turned bountifully into a jungle of delight, a veritable treasure island back there beside the kids' swingset.  We've been eating tomatoes--big and small--ever since and can't get enough of them.



This morning at five I got up and took a plate of cherry tomatoes out of the oven.  My wife, ever-so meticulously, sliced them in half, baptizes them in some tasty herbal juices, and sticks 'em in the oven for six hours. You read that right--six hours.  I just now took 'em out.

They're fabulous. I honestly can't say more. Anybody who thinks Midwestern food is bland hasn't popped one of these or picked a couple off a thick mound of sweet mozzarella aboard a homemade pizza.

I can't fault Garrison Keillor--sweet corn is a marvelous blessing.  But with the sharp smell of these little guys still in the air, this morning's thanks is a piece of cake--tomatoes.  They're a real gift. 
_______________

This post appeared originally three years ago. Had to leave early this morning. BTW, we now grow our own--waaaaay too many too.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yummy, I'm coming right over, the oven ones look delicious

Ron Ronglien said...

Stirred my memories. We had sweet corn, but also consumed "field corn" which was just as tasty. Slathered in butter. What a treat it was; and that was all that was on the table during the season.
Depression baby writing here. Formerly from Minnesota La Que Parle county.