I came home today famished. I’ve been working on research as to why Mountain Lake near my town here in Virginia is going dry (their claim to fame is that “Dirty Dancing” was filmed there). I have been plagued for the last few days with a stomach disorder – isn’t it ironic that someone so addicted to food can be so susceptible to the smallest of oddities in food? Not that it has ever stopped me. I once carried a rotten corn dog obtained off a rotating spit in a dirty convenience mart all the way to my brother’s house, just so “He could try it.” You know what? He did. With the same reaction I had. I careful sniff, then a small snarl, as to say, “This is nasty.” Then, a tentative bite, followed by a bit a gag. Then, for some unknown and stupid reason, a full bite. Then a full gag, and a confirmation. “That is nasty.” Why in God’s name are you eating that? I have absolutely no idea.
Laura is good for me. She gives me the little head shake now when she realizes I am about to eat something stupid. Like a fried soft-shelled crab sandwich with mayonnaise on a buffet line 500 miles from the ocean. Or a chicken salad that has been sitting in the sun for two hours. Or the rotating tubes of meat in any convenience store. The aforementioned soft-shelled crab had me stranded in a small town for nearly four hours, out of fear of losing sight of a restroom.
Today, though, is different. My stomach finally relinquished it’s siege on my body and during my work as a geologist (I think I need to put that out there, I’ve been getting funny looks when people ask what I do), I experienced a full on hunger. Starving. Stomach growling. The other researchers could hear it, and offered me snacks, like honey buns and snickers and raw hot dogs. Geologists are remarkably unpicky in their food choices. To all of such offers, I said, “Nay.” For I had a plan. I also had the ingredients.
We have a loaf of fresh, homemade sourdough bread in our kitchen. Along with Homemade pickles that are just two weeks old. Fresh lettuce from our garden and basil from our herb pots. American cheese cheerfully bullies its way around it’s more expensive counterparts in the meat compartment of the fridge. The most important thing: We have heirloom tomatoes that are ripening RIGHT NOW in the garden.
I finish my sampling, throw myself in the truck and drive wildly home, soil samples sloshing everywhere in the back of the truck. I throw open the door, and pick the biggest, reddest, most wonderful tomato that I have ever seen. I carry it inside, carefully, for this is a truly magnificent moment. I wash it under the sink with the tenderness of a mother with her newborn child. I dry it. Oh, yes, this is about to get R rated. I slice it, almost paper-thin, drooling over the juices seeping out of this wonderful fruit. I spoon a slight tablespoon of mayo onto a ready slice of sourdough bread, smother it with the slices of tomato, and season lightly with truffle salt. From Spain. I then top this growing masterpiece with my own Zucchini pickles and onions, layer with American cheese and one more slice of yellow tomato. With a sprinkling of lettuce and a mound of basil, this is orgasmic. I haven’t even eaten it yet. My stomach is growling – but I am a hard, hard man. I put this wonderful mecca of flavor into the toaster oven, and I wait. Five minutes. The bread is perfectly toasted. The cheese is melty, but the tomato, oh, the wonderful tomato, is still decadent and firm. I slice this masterpiece into two pieces, on a diagonal. I take a shivering, delightful, wonderful – bite.
Then I fainted. I think. I woke up and the sandwich was gone. No worries, I have more ingredients, and I can do it again! Next time, I’ll take pictures!