Sunday, April 11, 2010

Confederate History Month, Day 11, and Golden Tomatoes

Confederate History Month continues.  I am reminded of a classmate from the Virginia boarding school I attended.  I visited her Norfolk home and was shown into a drawing room with a portrait of a Virginia gentleman over the fireplace.  A cut in the canvas had been clumsily stitched up.  "What happened?" I asked, ingenuous at 18.  "Oh, a Yankee soldier stabbed it with his sword,"  I was told.

A few years later, I wanted some reassurance that I had not imagined the exchange.  Ah, said my friend.  "That's what we were told in the family!"  She went on to say that her parents had taken the portrait to a restorer who examined the rip and said no, it was not the result of an intentional cut -- probably just wear, or a bump against a sharp object when being carried.  That story seems to me to be a metaphor for Virginia's ill-considered new festivities.  The actual history, the intent of the story, and its actual effect seem strangely, nastily, mean-spiritedly askew from each other.

Well, the small minds in the Old Dominion don't affect my life here in Chicago.  Today the temperature was 72 and I had a lovely walk through Kenwood and along the lake.  And I worked up a thirst, also a hunger.   What would still my craving?

Too early for gazpacho, I thought, which is only adequately served with red tomatoes ripe and scented, taken  from the vine in the last several minutes.  I recalled reading about a golden gazpacho, with yellow tomatoes and red-gold fruit and veg.  Yellow tomatoes were in the store -- ripe-ish looking, not too insulting, from Mexico of course, and I recalled that I have a huge batch of bean and kale soup in the fridge which was just too wintery for a day like this.

So: two pounds of yellow tomatoes, into the blender.  Two cloves of garlic.  A medium red onion.  Two red peppers.  It wouldn't be gazpacho without cucumbers.  Olive oil, wine vinegar, ground pepper, some salt.  A large handful of cilantro.  And a beautiful ripe avocado!  Result: smooth, creamy texture ... but a little brash (the garlic).  An hour later, mellowing and even creamier, but ... boring, actually.  I put a cupful into the blender and added carrot juice; sweeter but two-dimensional.   A second cup, with sweet potato this time: sweeter and stiffer, no more interesting.  Orange juice -- sweeter and wetter.  By the fifth cup, I was still dissatisfied and tried blending in some fresh yogurt cheese I made this morning: tangier, certainly.  I realized I have consumed more than a quart, which is a lot of tomatoes, and put the experiment aside until tomorrow.

A small thing, but a lot more nourishing than the sourness emanating from Richmond.

No comments: