Thursday, July 19, 2007

seasonal lunch

My 1st husband's parents lived next door to us. His stepfather planted tomatoes and cucumbers every year--the 1st person I knew who planted vegetables. He didn't have what I thought of as a garden--his plants were in a row along the back of the house, like the dahlias or rosebushes in other yards, a strip along the edge of the lawn. Every summer, he grew them, and every summer when they started to produce, he'd make himself a bowl of tomatoes and cucumbers, which he called Cuke Salad, for lunch, every day, as long as they lasted.
I never thought to ask him about this--I just thought of it as one of his peculiarities. We never had a conversation about this, or about much of anything--he was friendly, but not communicative. So I don't know why he was so intent on these plants. I wonder now if they were a part of his past that he was preserving--maybe, like a lot of people his age he had a farm in his background. Maybe he'd grown tomatoes or cucumbers when he was young, or his parents did. Maybe that salad was a remnant of some greater summer harvest that disappeared when he went to work in a factory.
I don't know any of those things, but I do know now why he took such pleasure in it--there is nothing so wonderful as going out in your yard and picking some lunch, which once you are in the kitchen flies together in a simple, satisfying dish that tastes of summer, or of the past.
Cuke Salad
1 or 2 cucumbers, seeded and peeled
1 large tomato chopped, or a handful of cherry tomatoes
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs cider vinegar
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of salt
a few grinds of black pepper
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until serving. It tastes better if it sits for an hour, even better the next day. I sometimes jazz it up with whatever herb I've picked in the garden--it's good with basil or dill or chives, probably some others, too.


MJN/NYC said...

Was your first husband's stepfather by any chance Greek? That's a classic side dish in Greece, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers bathed in olive oil.

lucette said...

I'm pretty sure he was something eastern European.