It’s been a while. It’s been strange days on Forest Street, and the predictable, comfortable rhythms of my daily life, including cooking and blogging have seemed very far away. First there was the tsunami of political activism that washed over me in January and left me gasping on the beach as I tried to fight City Hall. Last Sunday, around the time it became clear to me that I was fighting a losing battle and should succumb graciously to the waves, my mother fell down the stairs and broke her leg. This required surgery, the surgery and post-operative pain required morphine, and the morphine resulted in more than two days of delusions, paranoia and talk of restraints. Really, it was a lot for me. At the end of a day at the hospital I found myself more interested in some Pinot Grigio and sleep than in cooking, eating or writing.
Today I woke up after a good night’s sleep, knowing that my mother was lucid, my father had slept, and that I would have some time to begin the return to my life. On the kitchen windowsill were two 12-ounce containers of grape tomatoes I had bought Before the Fall (by which I refer to the literal, rather than the biblical) and they still seemed to be in pretty good shape. Moving slowly and cautiously, I located an onion, some garlic, and a bottle of olive oil. I vaguely remembered fresh basil in the refrigerator, but it turned out not to have been so hardy a survivor as the tomatoes.
Lunch. I knew I could make a rustic tomato sauce for lunch. I diced the onion, smashed several cloves of garlic, and started a healthy dollop of olive oil heating in a sauce pan. I sauteed the onion and garlic until it smelled like heaven, and a return to goodness, and then I threw in the tomatoes, skins and all. As they began to burst and release their juices I stirred, added a little wine, a little salt, a little oregano, and tasted every now and then to see if it was good. It felt just like cooking, and by the end (after adding a little bit of sugar, which surprised me because the tomatoes themselves were so sweet) I had sauce. I simmered it while I boiled a pot of penne, and grated fresh Gran Padano cheese.
It wasn’t elegant, and it would have been better with basil, but it was good. It was good and it was fresh and it fed the people I love. I think I’m back.