Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"She Don't Eat No Tomatoes?"

About a year ago, my son brought home his new girlfriend. Now he is not the kind that falls in love easily and we knew that if he was bringing her home that it must have been a pretty serious thing. So I did what I always do when we are about to have guests, I started  to cook. I put the sauce pot on and the kitchen was filled with the sweet aroma of basil and garlic dancing in a thick tomato sauce.

For years my specialty was manicotti filled with a creamy four cheese mixture , topped with a zesty tomato sauce and then baked until bubbly hot. Stuffed peppers are another family favorite. Small red and yellow peppers with a hearty meat filling are topped with the special tomato sauce that is a feast for the senses. Heavy sauces like carbonara are reserved for holidays, but for quick entertaining, a spicy amatriciana sauce, made stove top in a skillet is a quick and flavorful hit. It is an easy blend of bacon, onion, red pepper and tomatoes, the key word being tomatoes.

I went to work in the kitchen and I mixed up a caprese salad, garden tomatoes and fresh mozzarella , with  a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of basil and garlic. I decided that it would be fun if we all made our own personal size pizzas, so I made ready the ingredients, including a thick tomato sauce, and I awaited the arrival of our new guest so the fun could begin.

“ My son introduced me to this new girl and we are instantly delighted. The conversation flowed easily, we talked, we laughed and I suspected  that they may be a good match.”

“Anyone hungry?” I asked.

I then went on to describe the menu that I had planned.

“Michelle doesn’t eat tomatoes, Mom,” he answered with slight trepidation in his voice.

The scene that followed was like the one in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The room fell silent and then....

“What do you mean, she doesn’t eat tomatoes?”

“She doesn’t eat tomatoes. That’s it.”

“Do you mean raw tomatoes?”

“No I mean no tomatoes, no tomato sauce, no tomatoes.”

Dumbfounded, I found myself at a loss for what to do and I struggled as I searched for the appropriate response. I envisioned future family dinners without any sign of tomato sauce and I am stunned into silence for a moment or two.

I recovered and pulled myself together. I can usually think pretty well on my feet, so I pulled out a jar of alfredo sauce from the pantry. I added it to the choice of ingredients for our pizza making party. I shook it off and moved on.

Michelle built a “white pizza” with the alfredo sauce,  a bit of cheese and  a sprinkle of herbs. I tried a piece and will admit that it wasn’t bad. The topping on the pizza was not after all, the most important thing. I realized that the ingredients in the food were not nearly as important as the people around the table. Many gatherings have come and gone since then and we have managed to alter the menu to accommodate our newest member of the family by adding a dish or two. It has challenged me to try new recipes and to change things up a bit. I will admit that I do struggle for ideas.

That’s Ok I’ll make chili!


Lianne said...

Good for you! I couldn't imagine life without tomatoes -- saucy, juicy -- anyway. I bought a small tomato plate a few weeks back and found my first little green tomato last night. I was thrilled beyond words.

Turning 50 said...

Life without tomatoes would be very boring indeed. It is especially rewarding to harvest them fresh from the garden.

Mary @ Framed and Tagged said...

I have to admit that I've never heard on anyone that didn't like some form of tomatoes but to each his own.
You did very well...;)

J Goode said...

Thank you Mary. The tomatoes are ripening and I am busy picking and will be making sauce this weekend.