Before I started Kitchen Lark, I spent a while writing a blog called Frying Solo. It was a good way to try blogging—to learn what schedule worked for me, to try my hand at food photography, and so forth—without committing to my own domain name and site design. Among other things, I learned that people can get offended about the smallest things.
Take, for instance, tomatoes. I was posting a recipe for tomato sauce, I think, and as part of the preamble I told the story of my transformation from the girl who wouldn’t touch pizza if a tomato had come within five feet of it to the girl who looks forward to the summer’s first tomato with the same longing she looks forward to spring’s first crocus. I wrote about how many new culinary vistas this one change opened up to me, how I’d started to enjoy the distinctions between different varieties and get opinionated about which cherry tomatoes are the best, how heartbroken I was the year tomato blight wiped out the whole crop on the farms around my town. I concluded that I was very glad indeed I was no longer a tomato hater.
To my surprise and dismay, this roused the ire of the militant tomato haters. How dare I imply, they wrote in the comments, that hating tomatoes is a bad things? It is perfectly possible to eat a balanced diet without tomatoes. Nay, more—it is perfectly possible to be happy without tomatoes.
I do not exaggerate.
Not knowing what else to do, I emphasized the fact that I write from personal experience, that there are a heck of a lot of foods that use tomatoes, that many of my dearest friends are tomato haters. If such a comment were made now, I think I would dismiss it as a troll, but, coming to blogging with no idea of the ferocity flare-ups over even the most trivial things can reach on the internet, I was just confused and upset. I hadn’t meant to offend anyone, just share my new-found love for a food.
Well, if you are a militant tomato hater, you can stop reading now, because I think you are missing out big time if you don’t eat this particular tomato dish. Protest as much as you like—I will stand steadfast and unapologetic in that belief.
Go to the farmer’s market—or a farm, or your backyard—and look for some really, really nice tomatoes. Heirloom is good. Look for different colours, different shapes and sizes. One of my favourite tomatoes is a zebra tomato, slightly spicy with green and yellow stripes. Make sure they are ripe ripe ripe and smell like summer. When you get home, do not put them in the fridge. Just make caprese salad right then and there. After you’ve finished, you can watch Insalata Caprese. Then go back to the farmer’s market and get more tomatoes.
Adapted from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food.
- 3 or 4 assorted tomatoes, plus a handful of cherry tomatoes
- 4 oz. fresh buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 2 T olive oil
- 5 or 6 basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
Slice the tomatoes and arrange them on a plate or plates. Top with the mozzarella and drizzle the olive oil over everything. Sprinkle on just enough salt to bring out the flavour. Top with the basil and serve.