Counter Action: Bruschetta

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The Internet has informed me that it now has its own calendar.

Monday is now Man Crush Monday, followed by Transformation Tuesday (which sounds like something on the liturgical calendar), Way Back Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, and Flashback Friday.

(As far as I can tell, the last three are identical.)

Nobody seems to know what to do with Saturday, and Sunday is split between the Selfie Sunday camp, the Sunday Funday adherents, and the Sinday people.

Alternately, you can combine all three by taking a selfie at the beach while wearing red.

Alternately, you can combine all three by taking a selfie at the beach without a chaperone.

This bruschetta belongs to none of those camps. It lacks both sentience and opposable thumbs, so it can’t take selfies. It’s pretty fun, but on a small scale. And if you buy the ingredients from local businesses and don’t go overboard on the olive oil, there’s nothing terribly sinful about it.

I propose that we make up a new designation: Seasonal Sunday. It’ll be dedicated to supporting local farmers and restauranteurs in their mission to supply fruits and vegetables with a short transportation chain. I have a nice long rant about this, but I already said most of it in this post, and Barbara Kingsolver said it better in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, so I’ll get out of the way and let this bruschetta speak for itself.

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I first made this in the summer of 2011. I had just returned from ten months in Poland, and I was working at my university while I waited for classes to begin again. I lived in a cavernous cinder-block house that was nice and cool in summer (and turned out to stay that way in winter).

If you remember my story about 2011 being the Summer of Harry Potter, you’ll already know that this same summer featured quite a lot of cooking, so when my boss gave me a bowl of various tiny tomatoes from her garden, I knew exactly what I was going to do with them: make bruschetta. There were cherry tomatoes, and grape tomatoes, and pear-shaped yellow tomatoes, and some beautiful orange globes that I called Golden Snitches. They were tasty enough on their own, but once chopped roughly and tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, pressed garlic, and fresh basil, they were even more delicious on buttered toast.

Incidentally, how do you say “bruschetta”? Is the “ch” a “k” sound or a “sh” sound for you? I’ve heard it both ways. I’ve said it both ways. When I’ve said it one way, I’ve been informed firmly that the other way is right. I’m beginning to think it’s either a regional variation or a method of distinguishing between civilians and the members of a secret society.

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Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. small tomatoes
  • 3–4 cloves garlic
  • 3–4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 c. fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T. balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 1 sourdough baguette
  • 5–6 T. butter

Directions:

  1. Halve tomatoes to release juices.
  2. Mince garlic and chiffonade basil.
  3. Combine all ingredients except baguette and butter in large bowl. Stir well. Let sit 5 minutes to combine flavours.
  4. Slice baguette into one-inch pieces. Leave raw or toast under golden brown. Spread with butter.
  5. Spoon tomato mixture onto bread. Enjoy as appetizer or snack.

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Photo credits: Beach selfie from laura6 on Pixabay.

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The Golden Toga Flap: Incredible Edible Todmorden

In 2009, the English town of Todmorden decided to try something revolutionary.

They decided to produce more of their own food.

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A hundred years ago, this would have been a given, but now, finding local produce in a supermarket can be well nigh impossible. Even if something is marked “Produced in the USA”, the odds are good that it was trucked in from another state. With the global spotlight currently on fuel usage and how best to utilize our planet’s finite resources, the topic of food production — how it’s grown, processed, and transported — has never been more pertinent.

If you’re looking for an in-depth discussion of this subject, I highly recommend Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, in which she and her family explore the concept of being “locavores” by eating only local produce for a year. Throughout her narrative of the experiment, Kingsolver tackles a bunch of questions, including this big one: “Don’t we need factory farms if we’re going to feed all seven-plus billion people on the planet?”

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As always, this image links to the book’s listing at Better World Books. I’m not paid to do this. I just like them.

Is this post’s title a typo? Is this actually Book Chatter?

Ahem. Sorry. It’s a fantastic book, is all I’m saying. Todmorden, meanwhile, puts the Kingsolver family’s experiment into practice on a massive scale, both space- and time-wise. Since 2009, they’ve launched multiple “locavore” initiatives. The best-known project is the community gardens all over town that anyone can harvest from, but there’s also a beekeeping project and Every Egg Matters, which encourages home coops. Perhaps most impressively, the local schools have played a central role in this movement, installing gardens, an orchard, a chicken coop, and (in the near future) a fish farm to involve students in the production of the food they eat at lunch.

Who wants to be in charge on harvest day? (Not it.)

Who wants to be in charge on harvest day? (Not it.)

When my roommate showed the original Incredible Edible Todmorden film to her mother, the first reaction she got was, “So … they’re basically doing what everyone did fifty years ago.” This is true, but how much has changed since then? Based on any of the many stories about town leaders discouraging home gardens, I’d say quite a bit. Todmorden knows that urban gardening is a good way — perhaps even the best way — to get citizens thinking about where their food comes from, which is something many of us could do more often. Well done spreading the word and kickstarting Incredible Edible initiatives in other cities, Todmorden. We flap our togas in your honour and stand with you in your pursuit of mindful eating and sustainability.

Want to learn more? One of the leaders of Incredible Edible Todmorden gave a TED Talk found here, and you can find the movement’s site here.

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Photo credit: Tomatoes from ludo38 and fish from falco on Pixabay.