Among scientists there is some debate of the power of nature versus nuture. While, there are some mannerisms that fall firmly under the nuture category, for some things there is no doubt in my mind that nature has the upper hand.
Several years ago I went back to visit my paternal grandparents in Baltimore. Now this was summer. Hot, muggy and the season of fresh sweet corn, Chesapeake Bay blue crabs and tomatoes.
And Tasty Cakes.
But I digress. We moved to Arizona when I was 4, but I remember a backyard garden that gave up the fruits of the earth that were best enjoyed raw. Hmmm baby. So after 6 years of having no garden, it was with delight that I went back to the humidity to get fruit and vegetables that actually had taste. (And the crabs too, but that’s another story)
For breakfast we’d have eggs or cereal and fresh sliced tomatoes. For lunch, it would be a sandwich with a fresh sliced tomato and some reheated corn shaved off of the cobs that weren’t eaten. For dinner, there’d be crab cakes or crab soup with fresh sweet corn and tomatoes.
Yes, my life did revolve around food. I admit I come from a family of foodies. If there was a support group for foodies, I’d join it, if only to exchange recipes.
Alas the foodie gene is not the nature I’m talking about.
You see, I notice while I binged on tomatoes, storing them in a hollow leg for the long years ahead until I could return to feed my taste buds, that always, always, ALWAYS a few red bits would plop onto my shirt. As a child, I thought I would outgrow this habit, maybe learn a bit of hand-eye coordination. Alas, that was not the case.
To this day, I like patterned shirts so when I do drop whatever red thing that I am eating, the mess is disguised and I don’t have to walk around with a giant wet splotch on my clothes. (Cuz things don’t dry quickly in the humidity)
But if this habit could not be eliminated by careful manners, where did it come from?
On this fateful day, I learned how powerful those little bundles of amino acids could be. I was eating my plateful (or third) of fresh tomato slices when the soft gooey center oozed off my fork to plop onto my shirt. I pinched the piece off my shirt (throwing it away would be a crime) then glanced up to see who had noticed. My father smiled, shook his head, then his tomato made it’s own bid to escape–right onto his shirt. Apparently this red wonder gene had been activated because one by one, my grandfather, grandmother and aunt all did the same.
The memory returned to me as I was tasting the salsa I’d just finished making. As I went to change my shirt before my writer’s meeting, I thought how my grandparents may both be gone, they’re still with me.
And the tomato is still on my shirt.
God bless Spray and Wash!
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