Friday, September 20, 2013

Heirloom breakfast


It always begins with a seductive "gotcha" photo followed by an evocative story about, say, when the writer was 8 years old and her Italian grandmother handed her a ripe tomato in the garden. Probably Tuscany. Flavor bursts, time standing still, blah blah blah.

Then we fast-forward to today, a farmer's market in, say, Brooklyn or maybe Seattle, where the writer stumbles upon a basket of that very same tomato. The mere fragrance brings back a rush of memories. She impulsively buys the whole basket, balancing it on the back of her Vespa or British bicycle or perhaps lugging it on the subway, to the envious stares of fellow riders. When she reaches home, a tiny yet impeccably charming sunny apartment kitchen, she sets about re-creating some amazing recipe from the past. Documented in high-resolution photographs with the contrast turned up as high as it can go without cracking your screen.

This not being a food blog, I'll simply tell you this: We have tomatoes and I've been enjoying them. Lots of tomatoes. Such is a rarity for Maine, where the first frost usually kills the plants and leaves me with bags and bags of green tomatoes that never ripen and that I never fry the way you should and, instead, end up dumping guiltily on the compost pile.

I've taken to slicing one, oh what the hell two of these beauties every morning, dousing them in salt, pepper, and olive oil, shredding a few basil leaves and leaving them to rest in a little glass cereal bowl while I put on a pot of water. In goes an egg, still in its shell. It boils for two and a half flips on my grandma's hourglass timer. (No idea. Six minutes? Eight?)

I hold the egg under cold running water for a minute or so, just long enough to cool it down so I can peel it. Which I do, then I plunk it whole on top of the tomatoes, drizzle more olive oil, more salt, more pepper, and then take out onto the porch to eat. The egg is still soft enough to burst slightly when I cut into it with my fork, but not so much that it evokes any "eww" in the eater. The flavors and colors and textures are pure heaven.

I have no photographs, because I'll be damned if I spend my morning photo-styling my breakfast. But you'll have to trust me, it's delicious. Years from now when I'm strolling through that market in Paris and I spot these tomatoes, you can be sure I'll buy the whole bunch, race them home to my charming apartment, and put on the water to boil.

6 comments:

Meg said...

If you pick your green tomatoes on the stem and put them in a drawer they will ripen just fine. I do this here in the mountains of Utah and sometimes have fresh tomatoes till Christmas.

Liz said...

Amazing how you styled your breakfast in words, not photos. It was a clear picture in my mind.

Bristol said...

Green tomato chutney is to die for. And I owe you some canned goods. Just saying. . .

amyfibre said...

Agreeing with Liz! You painted a gorgeous picture with your words. Yum!

zippiknits said...

Kwizgiver had a post about a Maine farmer, a potato farmer, and one that is about ready to throw in the towel.

Your tomatoes are lovely and the breakfast sounds delicious! Your writing is the best. Just what a hungry person needs to read. Our tomatoes are finished for the year. Mother would fry the green ones after breading them, or she would make green tomato pickle. Good times.

kmkat said...

I haven't had breakfast yet. Picture me running out to the deck and picking a few ripe cherry tomatoes to dice into my scrambled eggs. Not nearly as picturesque nor delicious as yours, but we does with what we has.