Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Sacred Literature of Fresh Tomato Deliciousness: Laurie Colwin

If you do not already own Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, stop now and run to a bookstore, or do a quick-as-a-wink click to Amazon, Jessica's Biscuit or your Kindle. Her essays are priceless; her thoughts on tomatoes and the recipes in the "Tomatoes" chapter of More Home Cooking, should be required reading and eating.

If it were not a copyright infringement, I would reproduce the chapter in its entirety -- but I know better.  She begins:
There are very few things that mankind cannot live without. For centuries, we survived without compact discs, automated bank tellers, iceberg lettuce, and bubble gum-flavored toothpaste, to say nothing of the internal combustion engine.

But life as we know it would be unimaginable without the tomato...
And later one of my favorite sentences in tomato literature: "In summer, the idea is to eat as many tomatoes as you can and enjoy the luxury of getting sick of them."

Two of my three favorite recipes in this chapter are directions for a fresh tomato sandwich slathered with mayo and celery seeds, and for a tomato pie with a double-biscuit pie dough and copious amounts of Cheddar. That she details its origin -- from a friend who found it in a school cookbook and who changed it to make it her own -- reflects her devotion to story telling.  In addition to writing about food,  she was a novelist, and I am not surprised to believe that the animating spirit of all of  her food writing was "What is a recipe without a story?"

In the spirit of story-telling, she gives basic-but-not-definitive instructions for slow-roasted tomatoes, one of the best foods on earth.  Through some delightful trial and no inedible error, I devised a recipe that works in the dead of winter with fresh and canned Roma tomatoes.  If you can bear to turn on your oven for three hours in the summer, you will be rewarded with the Concentrated Tomato Deliciousness that comes of baking chopped fresh tomatoes, some hot peppers, garlic, and olive oil.

Will you share it? I dare not predict.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love Laurie Colwin's work. She was a BRILLIANT food writer. A cookbook writer myself, I always find her books inspiring. I love her sense of humor, her way with words. Great choice of reading material.

Kitty Morse
Cooking at the Kasbah