Three scents wake me. Not wake me initially. An alarm did that. These are the wakings of an appetite as they are touched by the brewing coffee, the emanations of ripening mangoes…but the third scent is more subtle than the first two. It comes from the tomato my knife and I slit open. I pickup the oozing orb and note a mineral-earthy smell that is old and mysterious. It is mixed with fruity sweetness and vitality. While I love the first two, (coffee and mango) it is the tomatoes that cause me to take the first actions in a day of cooking. For I know they need a bit of stimulation to fully bloom their flavor’s. And the main tool to do this is so ancient it arrived before there were fish in the sea. It is salt. The tomatoes I buy are mostly heirloom varieties now. The shapes are irregular with dimples and clefts that might not fit into the orderly world tomatoes fell victim to until the recent rescues I am grateful for. Cutting them requires a moment of thought. It is like sculpture in that we need to assess the angles before laying on a blade. Once done and mentally prefigured, I slice a few sections. I don’t prefer them to be of a perfect symmetry. Taste is more enhanced, I’ve come to find in this my sixth decade, by the imprecise cuts as surely as the more methodically accorded ones. It is the random shaped that find new places on your tongue.
I’ll have some coffee… and in the meantime let the salt do her magic.