I don't have much for you today. I've started and stopped this post about four times already. For a while, I thought about giving up. I turned off the computer and went for a drive in the rain, with Four Sticks and Neil Young on the radio. But now I'm back again and since I can't seem to let this be, I'm going to try again.
I don't know how the weather is where you are, but here, it's gray and rainy. I woke up twice in the middle of the night last night because the rain on the roof was so loud. I got caught in the rain a little while ago, when I was making off with two chairs from my mother's apartment, it's raining right now as I type and I assume I'll still be listening to rain drops when I nod off to sleep tonight.
It's been rainy here for weeks, really. All signs point to the fact that summer in Berlin is over, that it ended sometime in July. I'm trying not to listen to those signs, though I do still remember that one August - I was twelve - when my mother and I came back from our summer vacation in Italy on August 11th and had to turn the heat on in our Berlin apartment. We retell this story incredulously to each other every year. This year, though, I'm a little worried.
In truth, this is great weather for working. It's hard to feel bad about being chained to my desk every day when there's no way I'd want to be outside anyway. But the thing is, too much time spent indoors isn't good for the soul either. And I'm feeling a little bit soul-sick today.
I went to TJ Maxx earlier today (or, TK Maxx, as it's known here in Germany, which never fails to make me giggle) and somewhere between the kitchen supplies and the thank-you cards my heart was suddenly seized with an awful case of existential angst. Does that ever happen to you? Enormous big-box stores do it to me every time. I think I need to be drunk to shop there. Though that would probably make things worse.
I hightailed it out of TK Maxx as fast as I could and decided that instead of eating sad leftover soup that's been in my fridge since Monday, I needed to do something nice for myself. So I bought some tomatoes, perfect little Italian tomatoes. Tomatoes, you see, are my desert island food. There is nothing, nothing, I'd rather eat than a tomato. No brownie comes close, no hand-cut fries, no T-bone steak or foie gras. (Tomatoes, my darlings, I love you.)
Then I went home and made this sandwich for lunch. The bread was pathetic, flabby and flavorless and a pitiful excuse for a baguette, but soaked with fresh tomato drippings and olive oil and all the rest, I didn't even mind. Such is the power of a good tomato. I ate my drippy, messy sandwich in front of the computer. And wouldn't you know, it made the gaping chasm in my chest grow a little bit smaller, just a little. Such is the power of the tomato and the tomato salad sandwich.
I left out the garlic, but I urge you strongly not to leave out the anchovy. If you mince it fine enough, you don't taste any fishyness at all, but it deepens the flavors of everything else in the bowl, like magic. Your pretty great tomatoes will suddenly taste like the Best Tomatoes of All Time. And so on. You'll notice that my capers are pretty funny looking - all I had were some enormous caper berries, which I sliced.
Mr. Tanis says to let the sandwich sit for an hour, which I'm sure would result in an even more delicious lunch. But I didn't have that kind of time, so I ate it after about four minutes. It still hit the spot. Sometimes you just have to take care of yourself first and worry about following recipes later.
Folks, I hope you all have a lovely weekend. Full of sunshine and squishy, salty, savory tomato sandwiches.
David Tanis's Tomato Salad Sandwich
Makes one sandwich (here's the original recipe and quantities)
A handful of cherry tomatoes or one beefsteak tomato
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, finely minced (optional)
1 small anchovy fillets, rinsed and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Pinch red pepper flakes
6 basil leaves
A few tender parsley leaves
1 crusty roll or a sandwich-sized piece of baguette
2. Add the garlic (if using), anchovies, capers, olive oil, vinegar, pepper flakes and half the basil, torn or chopped. Gently toss with the tomatoes and leave for 5 or 10 minutes.
3. Split the roll or baguette lengthwise. Spoon tomato salad and its juices onto bottom of each roll (or bottom half of the baguette). Lay a few basil and parsley leaves over tomatoes. Replace top and press lightly.
4. Cover sandwich with a clean dish towel and wait for an hour or so before serving, if you can.