By the end of summer, the newsprint was bleached and peppered with tomatoes.
If one needed a tomato for a tomato sandwich, one would walk barefoot across the cool linoleum of the kitchen floor, slide open the screen door, step out onto the warm patio, and lazily pull one from the picnic table.
White bread. Mayonaise. Slice upon slice of juicy red, sweet and dripping. Salt and pepper. The last soggy bit just melting in your mouth as rogue droplets of tomato juice travel from your fingers down your forearm.
While ear after ear of Silver Queen was boiling, mom alternated slices of tomato with onion on a plate. Fanning them around in a perfect circle. Finally sprinkling with Domino sugar.
Contrary, like salted watermelon or salted cantaloupe. It's bliss.
When it was getting to be too much, into the boiling water they went. Their skins peeled. Their bodies jammed into mason jars using waterlogged fingers.
To be used in chili's or for smothering pan fried pork chops with mashed potatoes. Made pink and thickened with a touch of milk and a little flour.
"Isn't this the freshest basil you've ever seen?" The man asked.
So many firsts with Roberto. Caprese in Rehoboth. I had never eaten such a thing.
"How is it, folks?" The man asked refilling our water glasses.
I looked up, my mouth full. I gulped. "It's very good." I said.
The man smiled and walked away.
I would have better in years to come. Much better.
"We'll use the big tomato we bought today." Roberto said.
"That will be perfect." I said.
Thick slices of market tomato alternating with imported buffalo mozzarella and the freshest basil you've ever seen from our garden.
A loving drizzle of the most perfect olive oil, salt, and the slightest crack of black pepper.
When something is this good, it's rude not to talk with your mouth full. "Oh my god. This is good." I said.
The tomato was sooo sweet. Sooo juicy. The mozzarella, it melted on my tongue. Creamy and sweet. The basil, well, that goes without saying.
We sopped up the caprese liquor that had pooled at the bottom of the platter with torn pieces of freshly baked baguette.
It really doesn't get any better than this.