By Emily Monaco | Tomato Kumato blog
When I was growing up, the Childhood BFF and I were inseparable. We met in preschool, and soon enough I was taking weekend refuge at her house–the home of an only child is like a sanctuary for the oldest of four, and I spent more weekends at hers than at mine, singing along to old Beatles’ records and riding around Bridgehampton in the back of her father’s antique Ford.
In middle school, though, we started growing apart, as middle schoolers tend to do, and by the time I went to high school and then college, I had nearly completely forgotten about our plans to be neighbors for life–college roommates and married at the same time, to live together and raise our children together forever.
It wasn’t until that summer–the summer four years ago when I was a waitress on Long Island, the summer I started this blog–that we got back in touch. It had been 7 years since we’d really spoken, but, lonely and bored without my boarding school friends, I tracked her down on MySpace (before the obsessive days of Facebook) and took a chance by reaching out and sending a message.
“Omigod,” I got back, what I now know as her constant refrain. She met the Hampton Jitney when I came in for my Tuesday off that week, and we sat at a table by the window in Starbucks for hours, finishing one another’s sentences as though the past near-decade had never happened at all.
After that, I was a staple at her house again, waltzing back in as though I’d never left. We spent our nights wrapped up in blankets in the pull-out couch in her living room, huddled together as we watched reruns of Everyday Italian and Unwrapped and 30-Minute Meals.
“How weird is this? That we’re both into food?” I asked. It was the summer after my attempts at recreating Italian classics, the summer after the Childhood BFF had started her journey into Japanese cuisine.
“I have to show you something,” she said, opening a browser window on her iBook. “I found this great site called Slashfood. It’s a food blog.”
Yep… four years ago, it was the Childhood BFF who introduced me to this world of WordPress and macro settings and recipe writing, just like she introduced me to the world of John Lennon, uncooked pasta as the perfect snack, Baby-Sitter’s Club books, puffed rice with sugar, sleeping in on the weekends… The simple but important things in life.
Now, the Childhood BFF and I are grown-ups–long past the days we were inventing concoctions in the kitchen on our own fake cooking show (modeled after Jacques Pepin and Wolfgang Puck–she did the accents). We used dry ingredients–salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, dry rotini–we weren’t allowed to touch the stove. We took handfuls of dry spaghetti when we went on drives with her parents, plotting our futures in the back seat. Sometimes, I let myself get lost in time for a little while, and when I come back, I have her over for dinner.
We text each other excitedly all day as we wait for the moment when we’re both liberated–she from school and me from work. We go to the Gristedes and peruse the aisles, finishing one another’s sentences yet again as we throw things into our basket.
We get home and make fun of one another, of the way we explain our motives in the kitchen, because we’re so used to being with people who don’t know, and we know. “I add orange juice to the roasted tomatoes-”
“Yeah. The sugar and acid. Like with a really good-
“You want these sliced or chopped?”
“Sliced. The texture is better-”
“For caramelized onions.”
It’s nothing fancy or haute cuisine–fish, tomatoes, bread and salad. But as we choke on our laughter and spear apples with gorgonzola, I remember eating dinner at her mother’s table, our “R-rated” carrot rounds slick with oil flying from our plates and onto one another’s, and I’m happy for moments like this, when I don’t have to worry about being outside my own head, because someone knows me well enough to climb into it with me.
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, minced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. orange juice
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 filets haddock
salt and pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Toss all the ingredients except the black pepper and Italian seasoning on a baking sheet, and bake until the tomatoes have released their juices and shriveled slightly, about 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes, and if the sugars begin to burn, add a bit of water to the pan. When cooked, season with pepper and Italian seasoning.
Season the haddock on both sides with salt and pepper. Preheat a small frying pan over medium-high heat, and add the oil. Cook the haddock 2 minutes per side and remove to plates. Top with the tomato salsa.
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Toss all salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the olive oil and vinegar together and season to taste with salt and pepper. When ready to serve, toss the salad with the dressing.