Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Dinner: Southern Grown Tomatoes

I am at a writer's conference this weekend so I will not be cooking Sunday dinner.

A friend brought me some tomatoes the other day and I immediately thought of this scene with Ouiser from Steel Magnolias on why she grows tomatoes. "Because I'm an old Southern woman and we're supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don't ask me those questions. I don't know why, I don't make the rules!"

My grandmother didn't wear funny looking hats. Like most of the women in the family, she was very petite and she always said that hats made her look like a little girl dressing up in her Mama's clothes.

Grandmother did grow vegetables. Every year, she would add potting soil to the bricked off square, which was once part of the foundation for the old coal house. The mill village houses used to heat their homes with small coal fireplaces.

Grandmother would plant tomatoes (maters), okra, peppers, and cucumbers in her small plot of a garden. Other neighbors grew corn, green beans, and such. They were always exchanging vegetables with one another.

My grandmother used to tell me about how when she was a little girl, for lunch they would each go pick a fresh vegetable from her Mama's garden and eat it with a biscuit leftover from breakfast. This was their lunch most summer days. She said her Mama grew such delicious tomatoes that you could eat them just like an apple. Her favorite lunch was a tomato sandwich, bread lightly toasted, with just a little bit of mayonnaise. She said it reminded her of her Mama.

During the summer for Sunday dinner, there was always a small plate of sliced tomatoes put out. Grandmother would always take a slice or two, add a little salt and pepper and then eat it with her lunch. I didn't appreciate tomatoes back then. I thought that they were only for pasta sauce or ketchup, but I do enjoy them now. And as I taste a fresh tomato, I can't help but think of my petite grandmother, glasses resting on the tip of her nose, gray hair brushed back with just a little wave to it, and her brown eyes that seemed to be able to look into your very soul.

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