adventures in Tomatoland

there are a lot of things that are worth mentioning that happened while i was hanging out in italy for a few weeks, but im going to start by sharing with you a story that i read.

if you’ve ever talked with me about fast food or monsanto or the current state of our nations food systems you know that i get really pissed off. i hate the fact that americans are so caught up in the lives they’ve created for themselves they have no time to really think about food anymore. no one questions the cost at which eating a “tomato” in december comes. have you ever noticed that those winter tomatoes never taste quite right? seem to always be hard as shit with an unnatural green tint to the center when you cut it open? this is because tomatoes shouldn’t be growing in winter. in fact, they shouldn’t really even be growing in florida. as author barry estabrook details in the recently published, “tomatoland” the existence of tomatoes as we know it is completely and utterly fucked.

estabrook carefully breaks down the tomato game that is currently plaguing our nation and surrounding lands. a great majority of the game is being played in florida, the gnarliest of which is pretty much in my backyard. immokalee is just south of fort myers, which, in case you didn’t know is one of the wealthiest cities in the country. immokalee, however, is the direct and complete opposite of fort myers. i’ll let estabrook tell you all about it, but you should know that slavery in america is alive and well. its abhorrent what is taking place in our country just because we can’t take the time to slow down and eat with the seasons and accept the fact that you can’t have fresh summer fruits and vegetables when its not summer. and vice versa. thankfully, the book discusses people and organizations that are making huge efforts to try and make things right. instead of leaving the book feeling completely weighed down by the bad news bears in florida, i felt hopeful. there are still farmers that work very hard to make sure their tomatoes are grown the way tomatoes should be grown, without using the worst of the worst pesticides, without slaves, and in soil that tomatoes like to grow in. here’s hoping these guys save the day.

im actually happy that i read this book while i was in italy. i was in a place where food is thoughtful, revered, and filled with love, from the farm to the table. its just how they live. my family and i had a few cooking classes with a local chef, marlo. when his wife, tzeela, was giving us a tour of their backyard community farm, she pointed to a few tomatoes and told me those would be the last they eat this year. talking food with marlo later, i hesitated in asking, afraid id look like the idiot i looked like, but asked him if, in fact, their regular daily menus will change in the next few weeks. he gave me the, you’re an idiot-look, and, matter of factly said, “yes, we eat with the seasons here.” i just wanted to hear him say it. reading, “tomatoland” while in such a place made me realize that we might be able to help ourselves yet. I like to believe that once people know about the trees being the forest they won’t be able to turn back.

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wa wa we wa!

i know the finale was a few nights ago, and im sure no one is really reading this anymore, but, there are top chef finale spoilers heavily laden within this post…. beware.

for starters, here is the official publishing of the steak tartare article. very different than its original form, but hey, i understand that creative loafing doesnt want to be a forum for my emotional ramblings. its cool, thats why i have this blog!

so many things in the land of unicorns and glitter…

i just finished the season finale of top chef. i have to say that i have lost my respect for the show. all season long ive been wondering what this bad feeling in the pit of my stomach has been… i tried to blame it on padma. lord knows she deserves her fair share. i thought maybe it was their obscene ways of eliminating chefs throughout the run; mike isabella was really in the finale?? if anyone reading this was helping out for the taste of the nfl a few years ago, you should remember the top chef that were guest appearing for the event. chef tom, spike, dick blazer, and antonia. i feel like there was a 4th?… i know for certain those 3 were there. as soon as d.b. chose antonia’s dish, i knew he would be winning. its really annoying. maybe dick really was the best of that bunch. or maybe my new nickname for him is more fitting than i knew… sigh. im sure ill tune in for top chef masters, i cant help but to want to watch those chefs at work. i have this nagging feeling that my love for top chef in any fashion is dead. sads.

i cant believe im going to post this…

i ate mcdonald’s french fries yesterday. in a walmart. by myself….

48 hours ago…

as i leave my parents house in the woods, im prepared for a troublesome drive. my mother likes to tell me about the weather whether i ask her about it or not, so i was fully aware that my drive would be showered from black skies. after only getting about 5 hours on the road, i tearfully submit to the storm and pull over for the night. i assure myself that ill wake up early and be back home in no time… rough night ensues (not suitable for public consumption…) but i rally and get on the road by 9 am. around 1015, i realize ive blown my back tire. thankfully, a road ranger stops just as ive hung up with aaa and my donut is safely affixed to the vehicle. he tells me theres a walmart 2 exits up that can get a fullsize tire put on so that i can drive the 300 miles i had in front of me.

after about an hour of wandering through the rainy walmart complex (outside, in front was a starbucks that i happily habitated for the time) danny and louise told me they didnt have my size tire in stock and mine was blown to scraps. louise points me about 30 miles up the road where shes confirmed they have a tire ready and waiting for me. once im all checked in, i decide to wander around for a bit. being starving to the point of wanting to eat a small baby, i stumbled upon the conveniently located mcdonalds, right in between the dairy cases and the produce section. for reals. i havent thought about that nauseating irony until just now… i caved. i dont even know how long its been since ive eaten at mcdonalds… oh dear body please forgive me… they were good though. in the moment. it wasnt worth it. ill end it there. they fixed my tire and i got on the road late enough that i missed the tornados and funtimes in st pete. yay? what a crazy, mischievous day.

with princess at my side, i bid you farewell for now, dear readers… hopefully… someone… anybody?…

**update…
duh, of course there was a 4th cheftestant at the taste of the nfl…

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the hazards of dating a vegan

When I was 14, I decided I wanted to become a vegetarian. I’m not sure what exactly triggered the diet change, but I was committed. It was a big part of my self-taught cooking practice due mostly to the fact that my meat and potatoes mother told me that if I wanted to eat a vegetarian diet I would be cooking meals for myself. I had a lot of fun exploring the meatless kitchen and after not too long my family was asking that I cook enough to share. And then one day I had a massive craving for a cheeseburger which I satisfied until I was 19 and living with a vegan in college. I, once again, decided to challenge my culinary skills by participating in the diet for a year or so. At some point I realized my diet consisted of fake cheese, fake bacon, fake turkey, and so on and so forth. I placed a strict moratorium on fake foods around the age of 12, and when I saw I was breaking my own personal moral boundaries, I had a rare filet mignon in my mouth just as quickly as I could.

I made the decision to never again commit to any sort of restrictive diet plan. Until last year when I started dating a vegan. He was never able to share in the exquisite cheeses or finely cured meats or gourmet ice creams I so frequently indulge in. When I started to think about the big picture, well, I accepted the fact that most of the chefs whom I admire most hold a rather strong disdain for vegans. If my vegan companion and I were to, wishfully, stumble upon a table at momofuku, would chef Chang honor the request of a vegan menu? My unfortunate conclusion was most certainly not.

The most disappointing of all realizations was that said companion would never taste my father’s favorite dish from my kitchen, steak tartare. Due to my father’s current state of health, the treat is only served on special occasions, or just because It’s Friday, depending on the mood. The restrictions of a vegan lifestyle are too demanding for a palate such as mine. I believe in eating with respect to the environment and I certainly do not support the mistreatment of animals for the sake of human consumption. I do, however, believe that a human’s diet is left incomplete with the exclusion of animal products. That being said, let’s eat some raw meat!

the recipe will be included in the article that i submit to creative loafing, a link will be posted accordingly 🙂

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wtf

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what a trip…

wow. really all i can say is wow. the last 2 weeks have been absolutely insane. im going to try as hard as possible to be general in my storytelling as i mean no harm to any involved parties. if there is something of offense, please be sure to let me know and we can discuss whether or not i care enough to change it 🙂

so. my gut has never lied. ever in my life. the lesson that ive had to learn is to listen to what my intuition is telling me. when i was in the backseat of the limo that was taking me to the ceremony of my first marriage, i was sick to my stomach. i knew, well, my gut was telling me, that i should not be doing this. i chose to ignore it. my mind convinced me it knew what was right, and, well, if you know me, you know how ugly it got…. a lesson that was hardlearned. when my stomach started flipping butterflies about a month ago, i tapped into it and tried to sort things out. unfortunately, when communication is nonexistent in a relationship, it tends to go sour. i can publicly admit that i got my heart shattered. it kind of felt like it was torn off of my sleeve and stomped all over. that sucked. moving on.

after my commitment to following what the universe is trying to tell me, i landed at my sisters house. being here has put me in touch with the women that i grew up with. j2 i met first, in elementary school, and weve been friends, despite whatever distance has been between us, for over 15 years. i feel old. j with an i and i met, to my recollection, in mrs andrews sociology class sophomore year? and kelso asked if she could have some of the pop tart that i was eating at my locker sometime during freshman year. and the four of us banded together and took on the world as fearsomely as we could macguyver out. here we are, over a decade later, and the two js and i are bitter and pissed off about the assholes weve so recently kicked to the curb and the other k is able to fulfill her usual, motherly role more sincerely than ever. i mean that with most love btw k, ok?? lol

ive never felt like the universe is smiling upon me more. now that im free of some heavy weights in my life, im reaching out to people. im finding out that there are a lot of people going through uncomfortable yet impactive relationship changes right now. i find it somewhat refreshing. i find the strength that is found between the four of us girls is amazing. individually, well, we all have our own paths that we are merrily, uniquely and amazingly trotting down, but when we are all together, it is simply unparalleled. i try to ride the tide of life without question, without hesitation, and certainly without regret. sometimes it brings me unbelievable amounts of pain, sometimes, the stars are right and i feel as though ive been shown a part of this existence that few will comprehend. ive moved beyond the anger and rage ive been acknowledging in myself and have entered a state of, well, serenity. instead of letting my heart rot and die from him, boooooo, im embracing myself and moving into the station ive meant to be in for some time now. i can feel the same energy from my ladies, the two js not my glorious tatas, and i have grins for days thinking about the gloriousness that is going around.

its cold up here but im filled with love

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whos idea was it to give the ladybug sprinkles?

so many questions… i do, however, find it fascinating that the ladybug is so captivated with the sprinkles. is the lil guy trying to eat em or just lick them enough for the sugar rush? whatever its after, i think its magic. i enjoyed this minute and forty one seconds of my life and i hope that you do too.

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dear padma,

are you really going to eat that?

who is this tony you constantly refer to? you claim that “tony” is the author of “medium raw” yet the caption below mr. bourdains face even tells me his name is anthony. anthony bourdain. i am sincerely not impressed with your casually intimate relationship with anthony and would really appreciate you calling him by his publicly recognized name. ive never heard you call tom thomas. did bravo edit you out when you refered to wylie as wyls? i just dont understand you, padma, and it really is annoying. more annoying than gail and spike and marcel combined.

 

thank you very much for your consideration and i look forward to the next episode in which you will be acknowledging your shameful mistake and committing to forever using everyones proper name, no matter how cool you think you are. now go take care of krishna dell.

with magic, glitter, and rainbows,
unicornakatie

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