The Spanish sun spreads her golden fingers across the brown, arid land, warming the morning earth. Cook steps out into her small garden. Blue and purple flowers are splashed across her blouse; she wears a white apron tied tightly around her spherical waist. With experienced eyes (like that of a hawk in the sky hunting for prey on the ground) she focuses on Tomato. Tomato is so ripe that his red color is one of rubies; so bulbous and heavy that his weight pulls the vine down toward the ground like some child’s water balloon dangling from its knotted end—Tomato is aching to be plucked from his Momma vine…
With barely more than a nudge from Cook’s thumb, Tomato yields, willingly, into her rough hand. Cook takes Tomato inside and washes the dust from him, being careful not to bruise or puncture her crimson gem.
Twisting every so slightly, the deep green stem pulls away from Tomato with little more than a sigh; the umbilical chord now completely separate from the creation it nurtured.
Cook smells the green in the vine and tosses it into a compost bucket; it will head back to the earth to nurture again.
Cook drops Tomato into a boiling bath, just for a moment, then scoops him out with a slotted spoon and plunges him into a bowl of iced water. Tomato’s skin begins to pull away from his flesh in response. Working smoothly but quickly now, Cook retrieves poor, peeling Tomato from the cold water and pulls his skin completely from him in three easy pieces (Tomato is so cooperative that way.)
Sliced expertly, Cook squeezes each half to burst forth Tomatoes gooey, seeded contents. Look at Tomato; he used to appear positively royal in his vegetal majesty—Prince of Summer Produce! Now he has been squeezed free of his guts and sits withered, almost prune-like, on Cook’s cutting board. But Tomato’s beauty, Tomato’s soul is not in his looks; both Cook and Tomato know that his true beauty lies in his flesh—and whether that is chopped, pureed or left to dry in the hot Spanish sun, Tomato’s beauty will shine through his flavor.
Cook chops Tomato finely then, placing his remains in a shiny, pewter bowl, she crunches shards of sea salt on top, and spoons him over and over upon himself. At last, Cook takes the elegant, green bottle of extra virgin olive oil into her thick fingers and rains it down over Tomato, the oil’s unctuous perfume wafts into the space around Cook.
Tomato concassé is placed on the lace tablecloth next to the platter piled with drapes of paper-thin Serrano ham, bowls heaving with juicy, sliced melon and a hand-made basket filled with freshly baked rolls.
Breakfast is served.