Why yes, I do listen to audio commentaries of films. Sometimes they're better than the actual film. The ones for Gosford Park and Chocolat are fascinating, but that's probably because Lasse Halstrom and Julian Fellowes are good talkers. The Dr Who episodes are equally riveting. I now know just how they get those Daleks to glide across the floor. And no, it's not highly technical. Or even computerized. Think bare feet...pushing cardboard boxes...
Sunday I woke up, saw glimpses of the early sunrise all pink and yellow and gorgeous outside my bedroom window, thought briefly about attempting another stab at the Sitting In A Darkened Room, then remembered my giant pot of tomatoes, sitting all naked and peeled on the deck. See that big silver pot there? To your left? I had that pot, all 18 quarts of it, filled with tomatoes. Peeled tomatoes, might I emphasize.
If you have no idea what I'm on about, imagine if you will a long wooden counter, in a kitchen, an old fashioned farm kitchen perhaps, and a stove with a giant pot of boiling water on it, into which some kitchen maid (who probably doesn't spend her Fridays in bed thinking Pleasant Youthful Thoughts) has emptied masses upon masses of fresh, ripe tomatoes. She lets them sit there, briefly, in the boiling water, before she scoops them out and sets them gently but firmly in an icy water bath on that giant counter. Then, and only then, does she put the cruel knife of fate to their tender innards, removing their skins and the odd core. The whole process takes our kitchen maid an awfully long time. Because she has an awfully large bucket of tomatoes.
Got that image in your head? Right, well, remove the kitchen maid, the wooden counter, and the icy water bath (I've always thought it a little excessive to use ice cubes for this purpose). Oh, and the giant kitchen too. But the rest? C'est moi: sweating, cramped, and endlessly toiling. All in the service of the charming tomato.
I think I'm still a little feverish. I'm finding it difficult to stay on topic. My mind keeps wandering off on Chaucerian tangents. Kitchen maids? I wish.
Anyhow, Sunday morning I woke up and saw the sun through bleary weary eyes. I watched it send out tentative beams of light onto the deck, flicker across the pot of salmon-coloured geraniums, wander over the table, settle briefly on the luminous dishes of drying garlic and potatoes, and then on the...silver...stockpot. The by now effervescent-with-too-much-sitting-in-the-sun stockpot full of peeled tomatoes...into which I had poured at least 3 hours, picking, washing, peeling and chopping. I think I might even have gaped in horror, right then and there. I'd been so busy lying in bed being pathetic that I'd completely forgotten about that big ole pot of soon-to-be-wasted time sitting out there. And that was how I left my sick bed. I did my Super Jane Austen heroine routine again, even. I forged out onto the deck, lifted my Ton 'O' Silver and hauled it into the kitchen, where I promptly rescued it from Imminent Death By Fermentation.
And now I have 30 quarts of salsa sitting in the cold room, many quarts of antipasto, and a number of quarts of tomatillo salsa spiked with Thai Dragon Peppers. Once I got working on the tomatoes I figured what the heck - might as well clear the deck of Potential Fruit Fly Bait. Besides, the tomatillos were sitting alongside the bubbly tomatoes looking sad and ever-so-slightly shrivelled, as if they knew they'd soon be Permanent Residents of the Compost Heap if I didn't leave off with the Youthful Thoughts crap and get out the food processor right this minute.
So I did.