For various reasons, I've been eating a lot of salsa, curries, and kim chi lately -- I find kim chi almost the perfect late morning breakfast snack food, which is sure to turn the stomach of most readers -- and had plenty of time to think about the nature of these foods yesterday while working on the near hour process of making a proper big batch of salsa.
First off, no matter how hard I work, my salsa will never be as good as the Platonic ideal of salsa in my head, because no matter how much I would be willing to pay for good tomatoes, they simply aren't available. In about two weeks, my partner and I will go to the garden centre, I will pick unrealistic white flowers that will die in four days and he will get tomato plants, hot pepper plants and something odd like corn. I will make fun of him but in four months I will have to retract everything when we have two weeks of tomatoes that actually taste like something.
Yesterday, I had a good conversation with a film guy (our neighbourhood is littered with them) in the produce section as we despaired over the avocados. I told him "It's that Canada problem," half expecting him to recoil and respond with some knee-jerk reaction about how we have the best produce in the world or some claptrap like that, but fortunately, he immediately seized on to my line of thought and began complaining about the utter tastelessness of practically any fruit available to us. "We used to just eat tomatoes, without even any salt, back in California". He left me trying to find 25 limes (margarita night) with any juice in them whatsoever, and summed up our conversation with the departing thought "We're perennially screwed, my dear."
Sometimes the film people are all right.
So, as I was preparing my cursed bland salsa, I thought of all the things I could be doing other than spending an hour making a bowl of salsa. Revising my book, for instance. Working on the Sisyphean task of getting somebody in publishing to read it. Pitching my story idea about food porn to some magazine. You get the picture. And I wondered if there was some relationship between cultures with really labour intensive staples and their advancement in other areas. Ever have to make hummus from scratch? Mojitos? Ceviche?
Still, there's something about properly made salsa that makes the whole efffort worthwhile. But it will be much, much better in August.