Friday, August 07, 2009

American Summer Meals

We’ve flown to California, where it’s pleasantly warm but not too warm and where my sister-in-law, Marjorie, is to be married on Saturday. She and her partner are doing most of the arrangements, and things are a bit tense as we arrive in Pleasanton. We are grateful when my mother-in-law, Gladys, whisks us off to a classic American summertime event: The men in her church are hosting a barbeque. I gorge myself on bratwurst, hamburger and watermelon.

Last week I discovered that the café at Jordanhill charges 15 pence for a tiny packet of tomato catsup. I was offended by this penury; like most Americans I believe that I am entitled to unlimited supplies of free catsup. For this reason, even though I’ve already had a bratwurst and now generally prefer salsa on my hamburgers, I go back for a hamburger so that I can fulfil my patriotic duty to smother it with catsup. As a result, I feel too full and slightly ill from overeating. (It was the ice cone at the end that did me in…)

This appears to be an ancient pattern from my childhood, the Saturday Night Barbeque, my father at the grill, all of us stuffing ourselves with hamburgers until afterwards we could only sit around and groan. Now I’m older than my dad was when I used to help him light the grill and keep an eye on the cooking meat, but the script is still there and wants to be enacted now and then, for old times’ sake, no matter the consequences.

Much more healthy was the fare we’d been making for ourselves in Toledo, collecting fresh produce to prepare for ourselves: corn on the cob, vine-ripened tomatoes, melon, green beans picked that afternoon, blueberries, etc. We’ve been suffering from Mexican food deprivation in Scotland, so the second night in Toledo, Diane and Linda (our friend and housesitter) decide to make gazpacho, one of my all-time favorite dishes, which we eat as a main dish instead as an appetizer. They creatively revise the recipe, which turns out so well that we decide to record the recipe on the family’s favorite recipes Google Document. In the interest of Promoting Gazpacho, I offer this modified recipe here:


1 large cucumber (remove seeds if seedy)
2 large tomatoes
1 green pepper
1/2 medium onion or 1 small onion
2-3 C tomato or multi-vegetable juice
3 T red wine vinegar
1/4 t tabasco sauce
(1/4 t salt)
1/8 t ground black pepper
2 small or 1 large clove garlic (croutons for garnish if desired)

Puree half of the vegetables, adding the other ingredients. Chop the rest. Add chopped vegetable to the puree. Chill covered for 2 hours and serve.

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