Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tomato Pie and Politics

Tomato Pie is tasty and beautiful.  Contrast the red tomato, green basil, and the white mozzarella and you have a dish that is lovely to look at and fantastic to consume.  It tasted close enough to spaghetti sauce that my daughter even tried it.

Something else I liked about Tomato Pie is that it’s a dish for do-it-yourselfers.  Self-reliant cooks could make this dish from scratch.  Growing your own tomatoes and basil is easy.  Basil is almost edible kudzu, developing with little attention or care.   It is limited by the seasons, though.  It grows only when the weather is warm.  Still I harvested the last of mine very recently for this recipe.

If you have a mind to make your own pie crust (which I admittedly don’t) and to make your own mozzarella (which I do), then the entire pie can be your creation.  Even if you join the ranks of many of us supplied by the grocer, you can still make this entrée.  But proud and independent cooks will enjoy this opportunity to flex their culinary muscles on some really good food.

“Independent” is popular word with us Americans.  And it has been thrown around a lot lately, along with plenty of other politically charged lingo designed to make us vote for one candidate over another.  I know I am not alone in lamenting the terrible negative climate that has pervaded the political life of our country.  Regardless of our political views, in the last few months we all got used to changing the TV channel when our program paused and vicious attack ads started running.  Frankly, cooking made for a great escape.

My deepest concern, however, is for the destructive political attitudes that go beyond the brutal advertising we see in election season.  This election was said to be a referendum from the people to those in Washington.  I believe there was also one two years ago.  I have never held a referendum in my hand – or a mandate, for that matter – but they seem to get handed out pretty frequently.  Maybe even arbitrarily.

A fact that seems to be missed is that in the vast majority of the races (in nearly any election), the candidates either won or lost with somewhere in the neighborhood of 40% to 50% of the votes.  In many cases, even the losing candidate received the support of nearly half the electorate.  This should tell us something.  It should tell us that our nation is diverse, with many different and even contrasting opinions.  More important, it should clue us in to the fact that at any given time, nearly half of the population will feel differently from those with the opinion that carries the day.  

Now, that’s okay.  That’s how democracy works.  What isn’t okay, though, is to pretend otherwise.  Our politicians often speak of “the American people” and refer all that we want.  But when they do this, they have to ignore nearly half of us, for we all want different things.  And yet, we willfully continue as if this game were all or nothing – as if the winning side made up the entire world.  As much as politicians like to reference “the American people,” there is a vast spectrum of the things we want and no single politician, administration or philosophy is going to fulfill them all.

Somewhere in our hearts, we must really know that our nation’s well-being and the solutions to our problems can only come from compromise, courtesy and a willingness to work together.  We teach our kindergartners this principle.  Sadly, as adults we seem to drive very intentionally in the opposite direction.  When we have the choice of fighting each other or working together, we most often choose to brawl.  Can you just imagine what this is doing to our souls?

There are some things that I think we know, but that get lost in the political clamor.  We know that all the “right” can’t exist on just one side of any issue, and all the “wrong” on the other.  Life rarely stacks up so neatly and obviously.  We know that with every election there is a cycle that brings elation on the part of the winners, then disappointment when we learn that our leaders are just as human as we are and must struggle with life’s intransigent problems – sometimes successfully, sometimes not. 

Some self-observation will show us that we are easily dissatisfied.  Now granted, we are readily helped toward that dissatisfaction by those who gleefully point out the shortcomings of elected officials – and they will usually do so with a generous helping of exaggerated language that misleads and confuses .  But the truth is we buy it.  We choose to believe the hype.  We happily learn to be unhappy, to be displeased with what we have, whatever that may be.  When we do that, we are taking the easy way out – blaming everything on officials, government, Washington and taking no responsibility ourselves.  When we do this, we throw our own independence out the window.

I think we would best claim our independence, our great Do-It-Yourself spirit, by reclaiming our responsibility to think and act for ourselves.  We are called to carefully and solemnly judge each issue, preferably as far away from the shouting as we can get.  When we do this, we may better see the true difficulty of our problems, the sparsity of easy answers and the reality that solutions require cooperation and a clear head.

If we are a people smart enough to grow tomatoes and to make cheese, we are smart enough at the very least to work together for the common good.  If we are loving enough to feed our own families, surely we can love – and not bash – those who find different solutions to common problems.  We have gone far down a rather frightening path, but we can turn around.  We can decide to reach out to our disagreeing brothers and sisters.  We can sit down at a common table, and prepare a feast together.

Blessed eating!

Tomato Pie
1 pie crust                           1/2 c. mozzarella
sliced tomatoes                  1 c. chopped basil

Prick pie crust all over with a fork.  Bake pie crust 10 minutes or until it just starts to brown.  Sprinkle mozzarella in the bottom of the crust.  Add sliced tomatoes.  (I slice them first and let them drain a little to keep the pie crust from sogging up.)  Add the basil.

Topping Mix:
1/2 c. mayo                       1/4 c. parmesan
1 c. mozarella                   
Top the pie with the topping and bake until golden. - Nancy Keating

Note: Even after draining the tomatoes, the pie was still a bit soupy.  Next time, I might squeeze them out a bit.

1 comment:

  1. Nancy - well said! Our elected officials are charged with representing all those in their respective districts. As you have pointed out - it's clear, but forgotten, but 51% to 60% is not quite a mandate and it does tell us that those in office must work harder to meet the needs of all.

    To bring our great country (or states, counties or cities) out of this ongoing slump is accountability, compassion and fiscal responsibility. We need to continue to invest in education, infrastructure and yes, even some amenities to be able to compete in the economic development arena. In other words - a logical, level headed and non-political basis of decision making.

    As we ponder our future and the future of our children and grandchildren, let's pull up a chair and break bread together. It's much easier and effective when we are all on the same team.

    Your wonderful tomato pie recipe is as good a place to start as any! What time is it coming out of the oven?