It was Valentine’s Day, and he was making dinner: Salmon with a Chardonnay cream sauce, and bacon wrapped artichoke hearts, and a last-minute decision for my signature heirloom tomato salad. We spent the first hour of our time together in the grocery store, romantically walking down the aisles, huge smiles on our faces as we chose the vegetables and wines that would accompany us on what would become our last night together. We had been together, but not together, for almost 3 years. Looking back, it was an appropriate way to end our affair.
Standing in this tiny kitchen watching him cook, I felt like a slouch, so I picked up a knife that desperately needed sharpening and begin slicing the wet, rainbow-colored heirloom tomatoes. I divided them in half, and then half again, tossing them into a hastily picked salad bowl. He was a bachelor at heart, and ate out often even though he loved to cook. He, like me, finds it very hard to cook for just one. Food is to be shared, and we only had each other.
His nearly-bare cabinets contained only two types of fancy cooking oil: Truffle and Sesame. Using the truffle seemed excessive, considering the richness of the food he was preparing, so I grabbed the sesame. I screwed off the top and
drenched the tomatoes. His spice rack was as sparsely stocked as his cabinets, and I slowly fingered each bottle of spices until I found the bottles of thyme and rosemary. I loosened their caps and shook them liberally into the bowl.
As he took the spice bottles from me and replaced the caps, I stared into his eyes, and picked up a tomato wedge with my fingers. I brought it to my nose and inhaled the sharp aroma of toasted sesame seeds. The tomato slid across my lips the way his tongue once had: pleading, and then passionately; the sweetly bitter sesame oil mimicked his whiskey-stained breath.
He glanced at the kitchen timer. “Ten minutes until we eat,” he said, “Appetizer?”
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Rinse and halve tomatoes; place in a bowl
Add oil and spices
Toss and serve
Spices are to-taste, and I tend to be heavy handed with them. When I write recipes, I cut way back.