July 14, 2012 – One of the things I like best about summer finally (!!) arriving is the concurrent arrival of the tomato that is accompanied by “flavour”.
Fresh fruits and vegetables were a staple of my life as a child. With two sets of grandparents in a little community called Canoe, on the shores of Shuswap Lake, I had it pretty good. You couldn’t have convinced me of that back then, I considered myself slave labour. My Grandma & Grandpa owned a fruit orchard with alfalfa fields around the borders. They grew apples, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, but their biggest crop was cherries. Sweet, succulent cherries. And all summer our family picked cherries to meet orders from long standing customers and fruit stands.
When the heat became unbearable, we went to the beach and swam. And in the evenings we would pick the bounty of the huge garden. Beans, peas, carrots, squash, corn, tomatoes. We would sit outside drinking Grandpa’s home made root-beer, shell peas and cut corn off heads for freezing. We would can fruit, make jams and jellies, and preserve small cucumbers as pickles.
Down the hill at Granny & Grandad’s farm, we would collect eggs each morning, milk the cows, feed the cattle, and pick rocks from the alfalfa fields when the soil was overturned after the first harvest and before the second seeding was done. Again, I would make jams and jellies with Granny, and help her fill the two or three massive deep freezers with baking.
So if I get picky with the taste of fruits and vegetables, and if I generally shun certain produce out of the normal growing season, you’ll have to understand that I grew up spoiled with respect to the quality of the foods I had access to, but I sure wasn’t spoiled with respect to the work required to enjoy them.
There is simply nothing so wonderful as a fresh, ripe, juicy tomato. Although they can be appreciated with a slug of really good olive oil, maybe a bit of fresh basil, or even just a dash of good salt…they are equally fabulous with nothing at all. They are the taste of sunshine to me.
Such a simple pleasure, and those simple pleasures can be so decadent if we stop to appreciate and savour them.