Thursday, September 10, 2009

How Stilettos Are Like Tomatoes

In the words of Rachel Zoe, I die. (Feels so much better when you're saying that about fruit that someone gave to you rather than a $5000-plus Birkin bag.) My mom stopped by my office just to drop off some tomatoes (God bless her), and to talk about my 15-year-old sisters upcoming homecoming dance. She has a date, the cutest dress from Anthropologie and the stubborn refusal to wear heels--we're just happy she's wearing a dress while making only minimal stinks about it. Remember when you were 15 and the hardest thing was fighting with your mom about what you were going to wear? Oh wait, that still happens to me 10 years later.
But when it comes to tomatoes, my mom and I see eye-to-eye, though that has not always been the case. There was a time when I found tomatoes to be smushy and nasty, much the same way that Emily thinks of heels and skirts. But I came into tomatoes about the same time I came into my first pair of stiletto heels, which was in Spain in 2004.
I had owned and worn heels before, but they were always those big, chunky ones popular (again) in the 1990s, along with crushed velvet and midriff shirts. But these heels were chic. Smooth black leather, European size 38, with thin heels and a pointy toe. I walked miles back from Plaza Nuevo to our apartment near Viapol in Seville, and I sort of wanted to die. The balls of my feet never knew such pain. But I still wore them out to a club called El Doblon (it was pirate themed). I couldn't dance, and I actually, literally fell on a boy when I was introduced to him--slowmotion, just like in the movies.
I was sitting on a bar stool next to a barrel (pirate theme, remember) with my heel hooked on one of the rungs. I leaned across a bit too far in order to shake his hand, lost my balence and was unable to unhook my heels from the rung before he stopped my face-plant. Note: In real life, these scenes do not end in romantic flings. You're embarassed, and you never look that person in the eye again. I had to walk home early that night because of the piercing pain, and I even took my shoes off. My feet were completely black by the time I made it up to our apartment. I washed my feet off ... in the bidet.
All throughout Europe, I did the same thing with all the food I encountered. I tried it. No, not just tried, I dove in head first. Before I liked beer, I ordered a liter of weisbeer in Germany. We drank scads of cheap wine, I ate mushrooms by the plate when they drew a gag reflex, and I ate tomatoes. Raw. With olive oil, mozarella and basil, seasoned only with salt and pepper. And my mom was right about all those things. Just like she was right about the heels.
Caprese Salad:
mozarella cheese
fresh basil
olive oil

The most important thing about making a good caprese salad is having good, fresh tomatoes. Straight from the garden is the best or from a farmer's market or produce stand. I have yet to find a good tomato from a grocery store. These fruits are so finicky, and I'm convinced the only reason why people don't like tomatoes is because they've only ever eaten bad ones.
Slice your tomatoes. My mom slices her mozarella cheese, but I just ripped off pieces. Wash and dice your basil. Arrange on a plate and sprinkle salad with olive oil, salt and pepper. Good served with crusty bread or eaten with a fork. (Follow these directions for toasted bread.)


Sarah said...

I'm working myself into the tomato-loving world slowly. I was never a picky eater but as a child tomatoes are something I wouldn't touch (that and canned peas, which I still won't eat).

But I think the tomato thing is a product of the industrialization of tomato-growing. I agree wholeheartedly that a quality tomato is a beautiful thing.

Still not sold on heels though. :)

Lainey Seyler said...

um, yeah, canned peas are sick!

Maria said...

I'm drooling right now. Love, love, love the tomato, mozarella, and basil combo!

Anonymous said...

That blog was so funny, i have to give you more tomatoes-they're finally ripening. Mom