July 15, 2013

Alabama Tomatoes

When I came across the passage below in The Well and the Mine, a case of writer envy set in. Novelist Gin Phillips is just that talented at conveying imagery in the context of developing scenes and characters in Great Depression-era Carbon Hill, Ala. And so I bring you a tribute to Alabama tomaters in her words with photos from moi.

Albert, the father of the main character, narrates:
Heirloom Tomatoes, Pepper Place Farmer's Market
 My mouth watered at the look of them, insides about to burst through the skin. I plucked one and bit into it like an apple, juice running down my chin...

I pulled another one off and handed it to him, still tasting summer in my mouth, seeds stuck in my shadow of a beard...
Jones Valley Urban Farm Tomatoes in a Tomato Pie-In-Process
 I smiled at them all (his children), chattering and slurping, teeth and tongues and hands and arms covered in tomato innards.

"They're happy vegetables, aren't they, Papa?" asked Tess, chomping great chunks of hers. "Cheerful and excited. Like lemons are pouty and peaches are flirts."

Cherry Tomatoes Growing in Backyard Garden (Thanks to roommates who garden)
Virgie took tiny bites, bending over to hold the tomato away from her dress. But her's was the best, fuller and redder than the others. "Tess thinks they all have personality," she said.

"If she can eat it after she makes friends with it, ain't nothing wrong with it," I said.

We all picked beans until supper time, sticky and sweating, licking our fingers and hands and tasting tomatoes and dirt. When I swung Jack and Tess up the steps on the way in, our hands didn't want to come apart.

-Gin Phillips, The Well and the Mine, pages 52-53

Publix pizza crust with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil

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