Mom‘s birthday is just around the corner, and I knew two things when I started to blog this project: First, that I would launch the blog on the first of August as a birthday present to her; and second, that I would have to talk first about our summer ritual and that tomato thing we do.
Mom and I have several rituals. The first phone call of the day opens with “Good morning I love you” even if it’s no longer morning, though I get teased about that. “Love you bye” is the proper signoff. Saturday is yard-sale day. The response to “See you in the morning” is “Thanks for the warning.” And so on.
One of my very favorites of our rituals involves summer tomatoes.
Okay, maybe I need to say that more strongly: There is only one thing my mother and I really like about summer, and that’s good summer tomatoes.
Stronger yet: Summer = Tomatoes.
If we see each other when good tomatoes are in season — not the nearly tasteless balls you buy at the grocery store in February, mind you, the good stuff, or at least the best ones we can find — then this is what we do:
- Gather tomatoes, basil, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, garlic (not shown) and a good loaf of crusty bread, preferably olive bread.
- Chop the tomatoes into fairly small pieces and put into a bowl.
- Cut the basil into a chiffonade and toss it in.
- Mince the garlic finely (or use garlic powder; I won’t tell, but it won’t be as good — for this amount, I minced one clove of garlic very finely) and add.
- Add a generous amount of olive oil and salt, and stir.
This is good right away, but even better if you leave it covered on the counter for around 20-30 minutes. At the end of that time, stir it all up again, correct the salt if necessary, and put some into a bowl with a good amount of the juicy goodness that has collected at the bottom. Tear off chunks of the olive bread and dip it into your bowl of tomatoes. (That bread knife in the photo? Totally an affectation. Tearing off chunks is the canonical way to do this.)
If you have any left over, it keeps well in the fridge, and is really good later on. It gets ever more garlicky the longer it sits, which to my mind is a good thing, but it’s the kind of thing a person should warn a person about.
You may call this a salad, and I wouldn’t argue with you, but my mom and I use it almost as a dip, and we just call it “that summer tomato thing we do”, because really, it’s like a lot of things my mom cooks: there’s no recipe and never has been. It’s just a bunch of good foods that go well together, all tossed into a bowl or a pot. Good, simple stuff. And it’s my first post because it’s the essence of how my mom and I share our joy with each other.
I love you, Momma Duck. I hope you like the blog. It’s my gift to you, small payment though it may be for all you’ve given me. Happy birthday!
[Note: This post will also serve as tomorrow’s Meatless Monday post; when I scheduled the blog to launch on the 1st, I hadn’t yet formulated my Monday/Wednesday/Friday posting schedule.]