I love simplicity. Usually the most delicious dishes are very simple, based on just a few ingredients. What makes the food exceptionally good?
I grew up in a small village. Since I can remember my parents had a small vegetable garden. Spring and summer were my favourite months, an abundance of ripening vegetables and fruits in my parents garden was something all of us had been waiting for during the winter. I can see my mum in the kitchen, cooking some dinner for all of us, and many times she’d ask me to go to the garden and bring some carrots, dill, onion or something else she currently needed. Isn’t that beautiful? Fresh, homegrown veg, how much I miss you!
The very first time I started appreciating the vegetables back at home, was when I moved away from home, to the city. The quality of vegetables available in supermarkets, compared to my mum’s veg, was just…sad. No flavour, no crispiness. To be honest, I used to hate gardening and vegetable growing when I was a child. I’d rather wash my dad’s car than help around with gardening/planting. It was only when I moved away from home when I understood why would people put so much effort in growing their own vegetables, if they are available all year round in supermarkets. I got that.
Sadly, things have gotten much worse when I moved to England. The quality of vegetables and fruits in supermarkets here is, well, below acceptable. Not only all the vegetables are pre-packed in plastic boxes and bags (why?!), they have expiry dates, even though they basically are immortal… Just an example: I once bought some tomatoes from a supermarket. Not only have they not smelled like anything (tomatoes are supposed to have a pretty strong smell, smell of summer), but they seemed to be indestructible! When me and my boyfriend went travelling to Southeast Asia for a month, I obviously cleaned my fridge and got rid of everything what could possibly rot away. Turns out, I forgot about one tomato, sitting in the corner of my fridge drawer. After over a month away, the tomato was untouched. Exactly the same as before we left. Isn’t it proof that the vegetables nowadays really are an equivalent of fast food? There was an experiment once, someone put a cheeseburger in a cupboard for 6 months. After that time it was only a little bit more dry. Not mouldy, not rotten, not even a fly was interested in having a bite.
If the vegetables we buy do not rot away, what does it tell us? They are literally packed with chemicals, pesticides and other nonsense, just to keep them alive for long and looking perfect. My mum’s veg was far from perfect-looking. Carrots and parsnips were covered in soil, onions were half the size of those supermarket ones, cauliflowers weren’t giants. but oh my, did they taste great!
I always try to buy veg and fruit from local markets or farms. If you deprive the vegetables their natural features: aromatic smell, freshness, not-so-perfect shape, the food you make with them will just be sad. The whole joy of cooking will simply be gone.
My most recent dream? To have a piece of land where I could grow my own tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, courgettes. Nothing more delicious than a food you’ve grown yourself. The hard work really does pay off.
The tomato and basil bruschetta is a perfect summer snack. You know the feeling, when it’s a hot summer day and you really don’t feel like eating anything but you are hungry? Salads are probably the most popular summer snack, but if you fancy some bread, nothing more simple to make and delicious than a simple bruschetta. The Italians sure know how to enjoy life and make the most of it!
The important thing is: do yourself a favour and buy the freshest tomatoes you can get. It may be worth visiting some farms nearby to get them. You will see (taste!) the difference, believe me ^^
TOMATO AND BASIL BRUSCHETTA
olive oil or garlic olive oil
bunch of fresh basil
freshly ground pepper
grated parmesan cheese
HOW TO MAKE?
1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
2. Wash and cut the tomatoes into small cubes and place them in a bowl. Wash and cut the basil leaves, add them to the bowl with tomatoes. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and salt, mix well together, set aside, so all the flavours can mix well.
3. Slice the baguette. If you like garlic, use garlic olive oil or crushed garlic mixed with olive oil, drizzle the bread with olive oil. If you’re not a fan of garlic, simply use regular olive oil.
4. Place the baguette slices drizzled with olive oil in the oven, for about 5-10 minutes, until they’re nicely browned and crispy.
5. Take them out of the oven, top with the tomato and basil you prepared before, sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Enjoy!