Tomatoh, Tomatow

It was going to be the quintessential blog posting.

Sir Loin and I were set to spend the whole weekend up at the house of Madame La Vache Maggie's garden 1 (otherwise known as the grandmother of Miss Steak). This other blog entry I was going to write fell through, so I thought, well, Madame La Vache has a great garden with a jillion veggies, I’ll just have her take me out and we’ll pick some stuff and Sir Loin will take some pics and we’ll go home and eat the tomatoes and basil and whatever and could it BE any more sustainable and local? I’d be Harvesting My Own Food and I’d really experience the soil and the seasons and the growing-of-things and I’d get all kinds of ethicurean karma points. Amusing anecdotes about bugs might ensue.

Didn’t quite work out that way. Madame La Vache is getting a bit doddery, for one, so I couldn’t quite explain to her the concepts of “CSA” and “locavore” without also having to explain “the Internet” and “group blog.” So I didn’t exactly mention that this excursion was blog fodder.
Maggie's garden 2Out we went, with our baskets and our snippers. First on the block was the basil. Snip snip snip. Then the tarragon. Madame La Vache’s mind isn’t what it used to be, like I said, and I had to explain tarragon to her and how it was very good on chicken. This kind of conversation can be a little depressing, but that’s for another kind of blog. Then we attacked the tomatoes.

MLV has an awesome tomato stash out there in the garden. Yellow ones and orange ones and red ones. Like, eight or ten rows of them. Snip snip snip they went into the basket. I love the way tomato plants smell, like if grape vines smelt like wine, that’s how these smell, but tomato flavored. We found some melons that looked ripe and I got us each one of those. The beans weren’t ready yet, which was too bad. Then a few lemon cucumbers, which I LOVE. She has a lettuce box, we took some of those. She also has a walnut tree, and on the table underneath it was a walnut that had been clearly opened and knibbled by some kind of creature. That was cool. Finally, I pulled up a few carrots.

MLV was clearly very happy to be out in the garden with someone who took an interest in her plantings, her vegetables, what was ripe and what wasn’t. (She has a fellow now who helps her with the garden, since she can’t quite manage it on her own.) We had a really nice time and I was so glad she was so pleased and I wouldn’t have even thought to ask for a trip through the aisles of the garden if it weren’t for this blog. I felt like a bit of a fraud, though, since my enthusiasm, while genuine, wasn’t motivated by the usual factors of filial devotion and agricultural interest. I really should have gotten us out there together before.

So I guess I was a bit disappointed in myself about that.

But the really disappointing thing was this: We made a salad of the lettuce and the tomatoes for lunch and they weren’t that good. I mean, they were good, but they weren’t great. The melon, too, was so-so. The ‘maters were a bit mushy and bland and the lettuces were soft and wilty. Maggie's garden 3The melon we had just picked too early.

The morning was supposed to be several amazing experiences rolled into one — picking own food with own grannie in own (once removed) garden and eating own forage — and instead, by the end of lunch, I felt like I had been part of an exercise in deception and watery produce.

How could that be? It had all the hallmarks of a holier-than-thou experience, and instead I was just left with some pretty grave doubts about the fabulousness of lemon cucumbers. I had assumed this posting would write itself — the glories of the garden and the tomato season yadda yadda. And it’s not like I couldn’t have written that. It wouldn’t have been untrue, or not exactly. Instead, though, I’ve spent the day reminding myself to stay honest. My activities this morning turned out not to be about local this and ethical that. My activities this morning turned out to be about hanging out with gran and enjoying her garden with her. And no matter how suboptimal the tomatoes, what could be better than that.

One Responseto “Tomatoh, Tomatow”

  1. Man of La Muncha says:

    I had to stop reading for a bit when you mentioned that you had to explain tarragon to your gran. It just made me sad–I’ve noticed my grandmother’s mind is a little less sharp than it once was. Reading about your gran and the disappointment of the vegetables made me think of mortality. I liked that about your post–it went a different direction than you’d planned, but hit on more important things than a tasty ‘mater (not that I’m opposed to tasty tomatoes).