One of my favorite things about food is its ability to evoke nostalgia with the slightest smell, or spoonful, or slice. We so often in our lives commune around the table so it is only fitting that some of our fondest memories might include food.
For me, nothing spells summer like fresh basil picked from the garden and pulsed into pesto. Growing up in a small town in Upstate NY, summers were slow and languid. Progression in the summer months was marked by the height of the corn rows and the yielding of a tomato plant. But it was the promise of summer pesto that I looked forward to the most. Kneeling in our garden, plucking those little, green leaves, and then leaning over the sink, soaking them in a warm bowl of water.
These were the images that popped into my head when I spied my favorite greens at our local farmers market this past weekend. The first pesto of the season is like a rite of passage. Or so I tried to impress upon Charlie as I dreamed up our elaborate, last minute dinner plans. As if autumn might never arrive if we don’t consume an unspecified amount of pesto.
So, we headed home with our bundles of green and uncorked a bottle of wine (a privelege my childhood summers lacked) and set to work. With a generous helping of olive oil and some freshly grated parmesan, basil becomes my favorite pasta sauce.
With our apartment full of the smell of summer, we sat at our narrow kitchen table and listened to the air conditioner humming in the window. And the baby crying next door. And the sirens blaring off in the distance. But mostly, we marveled at how lucky we are to live in a city where we can still reap all the benefits of a garden without having an ounce of soil between the two of us.
What are some of your fondest summer memories?
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Your meal looks so awesome! When I was a kid my grandmother would go to her garden in the city and pull about 6 plum tomatoes, a handful of sweet basil and dig up a bulb of garlic. In her massive iron skillet she would put in a very healthy amount of olive oil and turn it to low. then she would squeeze the plum tomatoes to get rid of some seeds and roughly slice the tomatoes up. once they were in the oil she would finely slice a few cloves of garlic and put then in the oil until they browned. after that she would cut off the fire and dump in her freshly washed basil on top. She would serve it with grated parmesan cheese over pasta : )
The smell of garlic would ward off any and very vampire in a 4 mile radius but it also told us when dinner was done : )
Thanks!! Your grandmother’s dinners sound really incredible. Nothing can compare to a dinner pulled straight from the garden. And I love foods that evoke memories, too.
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