There are some things in this world that cannot be topped. Guys with pants that fit them just so, the initial feeling of coolly slipping into a bed with freshly changed sheets, the high after making that perfect connection with someone you just met, and fresh, homegrown tomatoes in summer.
Cut ‘em up in thick slices, layer ‘em in a sandwich, eat ‘em as their sweet, sunny juices slowly drip and slip down your fingers. I love the way a big, heavy tomato feels in the palm of my hand – soft and delicate with its smooth, cool skin, but heavy enough so you know you are holding something substantial, something of merit. My friend Max has this dream, something he calls ‘the Womb,’ and when he talks about it, he gets this dreamy, drunken-looking smile on his face. His stupor-inducing idea is to have an entirely silent room filled with a soft light where he can lie in a warm pool of olive oil that gently pulsates. This is his dream, people. Ever since I have known him, The Womb has entered into probably no less than 12 conversations per year.
While my love for homegrown tomatoes doesn’t manifest itself in anything as distinctive as The Womb concept, I would love to capture the feeling of holding fresh, warm tomatoes. It’s so reassuring, so calming, akin to the feeling I get when slipping into that freshly made bed. Feeling the weight in my hands makes me want to stretch out, preferably on grass and lay under a leafy tree and take a nap. So it’s a good thing tomatoes are everywhere right now.
If you can get your hands on some good tomatoes, do them up right. Let them play in their rightly won juicy tastiness, their pumped up goodness. This recipe from Nigella Lawson is all about worshipping the godliness of summer tomatoes. You must serve this warm or at room temperature – how homegrown tomatoes are meant to be experienced. And it pays homage to the season by requiring only chopping and the time it takes you to boil water. No laboring in a kitchen by the stove or oven – just a quick, simple in and out recipe so you can easily stretch out and take a nap underneath a tree afterwards.
* I am not the only one who likes homegrown tomatoes. Let’s not forget about Sexfist, everyone’s favorite bluesgrass band, and their entire song devoted to the deliciousness of homegrown tomatoes.
Egyptian Tomato Salad
From Nigella Lawson
1 shallot, peeled
1 clove of garlic, peeled
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
5 medium-sized tomatoes
good squeeze of lemon juice
Handful of freshly chopped herbs, like mint, basil or cilantro
Bring a teakettle full of water to boil.
While waiting for the water to boil, chop the shallot and garlic as fine as possible, or if you’re like me and feeling lazy, just whiz ‘em up in the food processor for a few seconds. Put chopped shallot and garlic in a small bowl with the oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Let sit to allow the flavors to meld together.
When the water starts to boil, arrange the tomatoes in a deep bowl and then pour the water over them so they are completely submerged. Leave for 5 minutes. Drain the tomatoes in a colander and run under icy cold water to stop them from cooking. Using a sharp knife, peel off the tomato skins and slice the tomatoes into slices as thick or thin as you want.
Arrange the slices in a dish and drizzle the dressing over the tomatoes. Use your hands to turn and fully coat the tomatoes in the dressing. You can eat them right away or wait about a half hour for the tomatoes to cool down to room temperature while the dressing really kicks up the flavor on everything. When you are ready to eat, spritz some lemon juice over the plate and sprinkle with a smidge more of salt and pepper and the freshly chopped herbs of your choice.