Sometimes I wonder, tomatoes

It seems that all of my life, my weight has been an issue, a concern. My plan through high school and part of college was to be a ballet teacher when I grew up. I knew I’d never be a dancer because of my build. In my final year of high school, my parents drove me to a neighboring city to audition for the dance program (ballet) at the public university. I was told I was a good dancer, but I had to lose weight. Come back …

Weight Watchers entered our lives then, in the last 60s. My mom joined me on the program. We both lost weight. My goal was about 25 pounds. A few months later I returned for the second audition to be told the next year’s program was full. That experience must have made some impression because these many years and lifetimes later I still remember that day clearly. I started college the next fall in the dance program (modern) at the local state university. From then on I was recognized as the ballet dancer who does modern … that, too, stays with me.

Every time I’ve followed a weight loss program, I’ve been able to keep from regaining for a good amount of time. In fact, it was not til I was married that I ventured back to the diet world. Well, I was always cognizant of what I ate.

I had 25 pounds to lose after our daughter was born and followed a newer version of Weight Watchers. Some ten years later, the eighteen pounds that had crept on were banished with the same program. Each new iteration of this plan allowed different foods; I remember in the original (I still have the first cookbook!) some sugar-rich items were banished: tomatoes, carrots, watermelon. To this day, I no longer eat watermelon!

Tomatoes. A few years ago, our son from Barbados came to stay for a few days. Actually Constant Companion and I have two sons. One is Korean; he was my aide at a conference there some thirteen years ago and adopted me. Fortunately, every year since then when I returned in February (my annual dose of winter) we had breakfast together. Our Barbadian son adopted us when we offered our home for ‘Badian museum professionals staying over between flights.

The last time he was here, I noted on his new, trimmer physique. He promptly shared his “food plan,” which came from a trainer. The plan’s rationale is that smaller, frequent meals boost one’s metabolism. The meals are carefully tailored from a generous selection of proteins, complex carbohydrates, vegetables, condiments, and coffee, tea, and water. NO fruit, though, in keeping with the rationale to cut sugar. That was a hard one, but I did it and lost about 40 pounds.

Then COVID hit at the same time as our new sewage pipe project came to roost. The latter was estimated to take five weeks to two months. It’s nearly ten months later and the comedy of errors continues.

I’ve been riding an emotional roller coaster those long months of displacement. Luckily, our house has two bathrooms, so we were never without the necessities. Our living room, on the other hand, was taken over by the linen closet contents and boxes of stuff. Then the cartons of bathroom cabinets delivered in October took the form of a ziggurat* filling the center of the room.

*Ziggurat, a term for the stepped pyramids of Mesopotamia; also a term used to describe the stepped façade of Art Deco buildings in Miami Beach.

Where is this going? Tomatoes. They are a food from the Western Hemisphere.* A Number of ingredients found in food traditions around the globe originated in the Western Hemisphere; beans, corn, squash, peppers, potatoes. In fact, tomatoes were referred to as love apples and thought to be poisonous. What did eat before tomatoes migrated? (I know studious researchers are delving into ancient texts in Europe to answer this question.)

*I no longer use the term “New World.” When the Europeans reached the Western Hemisphere it had long been populated by sophisticated cultures with long histories. This place was not new to them! I refer to these parts as “The Americas” or the Western Hemisphere out of respect to the people who preceded the Europeans.

A recent article in our local paper highlighted an Italian American chef who some years ago, lauded ground corn as a noted Italian ingredient. The Navajo chef with whom she was visiting pointed out they his community had used indigenous blue cornmeal for many more centuries (https://www.washingtonpost.com/food/2021/12/10/sumac-lamb-new-native-kitchen/).

It all makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Once this gridlock of COVID is tamed and our house is again in order, and I return in all seriousness to the ‘Badian food plan, what do I do about tomatoes in recipes? I wonder what creative solutions to replace tomatoes I’ll come up with!

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