An expatriate of New Orleans – and professional chef – who has lived in Los Angeles since her childhood, blogs about the journey from New Orleans to Los Angeles back to New Orleans, and points along the way.

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No Caprese Salad in Winter!- Part 1

By on Mar 6, 2009, 9:53 pm in Food and Drink, Pet Peeves and Rants, Small Pleasures Catering | 0 comments

A few weekends back I was in the line at Trader Joe’s, and struck up a conversation with a fellow shopper. The line strung all the way back into the aisles (it was Super Bowl weekend), so he asked me if I could check to see if there was any basil where I was standing. There wasn’t.

"It’s not really basil season", I said.

He then went on to tell me he was out searching for ingredients for Caprese salad. He had been to a couple of grocery already looking for ripe tomatoes.

“Use the cherry tomatoes” I suggested. Trader Joe’s has a great mixed medley pack of cherry tomatoes grown in Mexico, which are fairly good year round.

“My wife doesn’t like cherry tomatoes” he responded. “ I found some Roma tomatoes at Pavillion’s that are pretty ripe.”

“I don’t even make Caprese salad in winter, and I’m a caterer. I lost a job once because I refused to do it.” … bemused look from him.

Now I’ve seen caterers serve Caprese salad with hard pink tomatoes out of season, but what’s the point?  Perfectly ripe tomatoes (and seasonal basil) are the whole point of Caprese salad, right?

Of course, I felt I was right (ahem!), but I’ve recently finished reading Judith Jones’ The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food , and now feel completely vindicated.

Judith Jones is a legend in the world of publishing who helped shape modern cookbook publishing. If you have a cookbook by Julia Child, James Beard, Edna Lewis, Madhur Jaffrey, Lidia Bastianich or any of several others, Judith Jones was responsible for getting it to your shelf. if you are a “foodie” at all, you will want to read this book.

So what does she have to with Caprese salad? Come back next time for the answer.

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