Tonight I made baked potatoes with all the trimmings - salsa, yoghurt, cheese, tomato, capsicum, chicken, corn.. and while I was waiting for the girls to arrive for dinner ("I'm in the bath!""I'm doing my homework!") I broke open a small potato and ate it all by itself. Well, all by itself with lashings of butter. It was a King Edward potato dug out of my garden last week. Fresh and white and fluffy and dripping with salty butter. It was one of the best potatoes I have ever eaten and I enjoyed every greedy mouthful. Then the girls came and I had another potato with all the extras, and while it was good I was a little disappointed, because I could hardly taste the potato for everything that was piled on top of it.
Sometimes I think we do too much to our food. We have so much food, and so much variety in our food, that we can forget just how amazing a very humble potato can be. One thing about having a garden is that the very first ripe tomato is an occasion, as is the first nectarine, the first meal of baby lettuce. Little harvest celebrations all through the year. It is a way of remembering that this food, all by itself, unadorned, is a miracle and very good in itself. Very simple dishes featuring something out of the garden are a staple in every culture as gardeners and cooks have worked out the easiest and most simple way of getting fresh produce onto the table. Basil, tomato and a drizzle of olive oil? How could it be more perfect?
Sometimes at the end of a meal I bring out one piece of fruit. A lovely yellow pear, a ripe Cox's Orange Pippin stippled in white dots, and I cut it up at the table and we three sit there, wrapped up in the wonder of a crunchy apple or a juicy pear. Or maybe that's just me. Maybe the others are just eating fruit, or complaining that I ought to know by know that they don't like apples.. this week.
However, simple food can be good. Very good. I would like to do more simple food.