Feast and Famine: A Life in Tomatoes


Today I’m worried about adequate sleep, getting my reading done and not sounding stupid in class. This time last year, it was all about the tomatoes.

A Word, Please. . .

In my Arizona childhood, they were giant pinkish wedges tasteless as wax lips, lying on iceberg lettuce—our Sunday salad, my dad’s one acquiescence to vegetables.

My father sometimes brought home cherry tomatoes, little spheres of doom that met my teeth like bursting aneurysms and just as welcome. Back when you could admit to eating fast food, tomato slices draped over burgers like transparent negligées. “I only like tomatoes on sandwiches,” I’d say in childhood, dodging the waxy and bursting scenarios.

47030d72dd37d8842bbbe63ecc9869b1The canned tomatoes I saw at my mother’s spilled like sewage out of pipes into the runny chili she made for company. They only register as food in retrospect.

Last March my son and I started tomato seeds in trays, sunned them on the kitchen table and watered them through the last cold months. One develops a  primordial affection for seedlings—their life connected to one’s own in the promise of food. As weather warmed, we set the babies outside a few hours a day…

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