We planted tomatoes in the back yard every year when I was growing up. Summers featured vats of homemade pico de gallo, and the night before the first projected frost featured 200 green tomatoes wrapped in newspaper on the kitchen counter.
Tomatoes will eventually ripen in carefully prepared boxes in the garage, but the wait requires patience, which I do not possess when it comes to food. One year I found a delicious solution—recipes for cooking the tomatoes while they were still green.
I settled on Curried Green Tomatoes because of the promising ingredient list, and each step in the cooking process smelled more delicious than the last—sautéing garlic, caramelizing onions, blending spices; we couldn’t wait to try it.
You know that feeling in your nose and throat right after you throw up? The one where you can still feel all the soft-edged food chunks that have just passed through your respiratory system? My curried green tomatoes tasted exactly like that, right down to the viscous drool and the lingering acid burn.
My kindhearted father kept trying to swallow his bowlful until I swore that his stopping would not offend me.
NOTICE: The rest of this post is still about barf. If that’s not going to work out for you, maybe skip it and come back next week. Then again, if vomit is a problem, you probably stopped reading my blog a long time ago.
The next major intersection of cookery and pukery came one summer in college, when I attended a week-long camp retreat and someone thoughtfully brought a stomach bug up the mountain. Sixty percent of the camp was stricken in about 24 hours, which made for a lot of people who didn’t want their dessert, so I was initially pretty happy.
But none were to be spared, and my moment came a few hours later, signaling the end of a previously respectable pair of shoes.
Yet this particular outpouring was weirdly delightful. Every heave tapped into a little pocket of joy and wellbeing, and before the last rope of bile had left me, I was feeling unreasonably terrific.
My mood did deflate a little when the staff member coming to my aid brought a single Kleenex as her contribution. She stood watching for several minutes as I tried to portion out the tissue plies among my mouth, nose, hair, and surroundings, before asking if perhaps I wanted a second one.
Still, my triumph over intestinal ills enchanted one of the other staff, who started towing me around to share the story with others. I felt a little like a trained monkey, but as we’ve discussed, I don’t exactly mind attention.
Most of the camp had recovered by the next morning, but breakfast inexplicably triggered a widespread relapse.