Monday, January 5, 2015

Breaking with family

I love my dad. He's been a great influence on my life, we get along well, and I make sure to consult him before making big life decisions -- relocating, taking a new job, etc. If, whenever I get around to growing up, I end up like him, I'll have done pretty well for myself.

On some issues, though, I find myself growing farther and farther apart from him. Now I find myself dealing with an issue that could drive a wedge between me and both my parents, and it's one I never would have anticipated.

The simple fact is this -- I think I'm starting to like tomatoes.

To some of you, this will seem like a non-issue. The thing is, this represents quite a break from the epicurean path I've taken these 30-odd years. Neither my mom nor my dad like tomatoes, and my dad goes even further and rejects tomatoes in almost all their forms -- raw, cooked, soup, you name it. When we had grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup to combat Nebraska's cold weather, cries of "barf-o-matic!" and a mad dash for the curry powder soon followed. There were no BLTs in our kitchen, and salads were bereft of anything red aside from bacon bits.

So it was with no small amount of bemusement that I found myself not only making this recipe for crockpot chicken cacciatore but enjoying the results. The recipe calls for two cans of diced tomatoes and another of tomato paste, which is a considerable amount of tomatoes for someone who, until recently, would painstakingly remove all traces of tomatoes -- on the rare occasions I forgot to specify "no tomatoes" -- from dishes I ordered.

It used to be that, like my dad, I would cringe if a tomato somehow crept past my defenses. Now I find myself more accepting of their subtle sweetness, even if the texture isn't always to my liking. Not long ago I was enjoying a nice salad at Jones the Grocer -- a slightly upmarket line of restaurants originating in Australia -- and discovered cherry tomatoes lurking underneath the greens. Normally this would necessitate a search-and-destroy mission, but instead down the hatch they went with the other contents of the bowl.

Am I growing more tolerant of once-despised foodstuffs in my advancing years? Is my palate growing more refined and mature? Or have I realized I have neither the time nor energy to get worked up about such things anymore and, as such, have allowed my laziness to overwhelm the remnants of my former finickiness? Answers on a postcard.

Regardless, this definitely counts as a win as far as adding to my recipe collection. It doesn't surpass the big two -- curry rice and niku jaga -- but it's in the next tier of the rotation alongside the macaroni and cheese and the spaghetti and meatballs. I don't know how the person who invented the crockpot didn't win a Nobel Prize, but it's nothing short of a traveshamockery.

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