Rather than share a photo of the end result (27 jars of tomato sauce) or the starting place (one bushel of ripe Ontario roma tomatoes), I chose to share a photo of the mid-way point of my 10 hour tomato sauce extravaganza yesterday.
Yup..those three pots are the messy delicious glorious results of having processed a bushel of tomatoes with my favourite new kitchen gadget – a food mill…I’ve read about food mills for years and finally realized it was time to get me one of those things. And it has changed my whole approach to canning tomatoes.
But I apparently was processing more yesterday than just tomatoes. I like to listen to CBC (the Canadian version of NPR) when I am spending hours in the kitchen canning, and there was a fascinating interview with a woman about the importance of empathy. She spoke about being physically attacked while living in Central America and how she dealt with it.
And then I spent many hours, while stirring my reducing tomato sauce, reflecting. About ten years ago, I was held up at knife point on my first day in South Africa. Luckily, I was not physically assaulted. I only lost my money and my mobile phone, but I remember thinking while it was happening – “please don’t kill me, and please don’t rape me because that is probably also a death sentence”. It probably lasted less than a minute but every second is still vivid in my mind.
Even though it happened in a park during daylight, I am still terrified of confined dark unpopulated spaces, especially underground parking garages (although I can’t avoid them) and it took years after I got back home to be able to walk on the street – even busy ones – alone at night, although I now do it easily but that’s only because I feel safe with the dog at my side.
But the processing part – particularly in terms of empathy? I never blamed the young man who held me up. He was obviously more desperate than I could ever be – and just as scared as I was, if not more. He got my money & my phone, and I kept my life: it seemed like a decent trade. And I could have left South Africa the next day but I chose to stay on for two months – I was not going to run away scared…
Now every time I go out at night, or go into an underground parking garage, I think “I am stronger, I am conquering my fear, and I am not going to be a victim”.
I love my new food mill, and looking at the 11 litres of tomato sauce sitting in my pantry, but – really – I would still feel completely blessed without them. And yesterday reminded me to count my blessings, and appreciate the life I have.