There are some foreign words that just cannot be pinpointed with an exact English translation. Gemütlichkeit is German for warmth, friendliness and coziness as a state of mind. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese phrase that exemplifies the desire to embrace both physical and spiritual imperfection. Scorpacciata is an Italian word that characterizes the copious consumption of a particular local food item when it is in season. To me, scorpacciata means it is August and I am eating tomatoes until they come out of my ears.
Unlike my brave colleague, Eileen M. Duffy, who is in the throes of a self-imposed challenge of eating 10 pounds of tomatoes every week for 10 weeks (we should call her the Scorpacciata Queen), my embrace of scorpacciata manifests itself rather modestly at lunchtime. Beginning in early August and lasting until mid-September (or longer if we are fortunate) I indulge, at least four times a week, in my all-time favorite sandwich; the tomato sandwich. Since I was a child, a tomato sandwich has been one of my go-to summer treats. Most tomato sandwich purists would agree, the simpler the better. For me, a perfectly sublime tomato sandwich has four ingredients: vine-ripened tomatoes, soft bread (Wonder Bread as a child, now a soft multi-grain bread), lots of Hellman’s mayonnaise (don’t skimp) and some coarse ground black pepper. That’s it, pure and simple. Come to think of it, as an adult, there is something wondrous and sexy about the three-way marriage of tomatoes, mayonnaise and pepper. The softness of the bread helps cradle this ambrosial union, ensuring that it does not immediately slide out onto your plate or worse yet, your lap. If it’s a quickie you are craving, just do it over the kitchen sink.
Leave it to the Italians to have a seductive and titillating word for my rather simple seasonal hankering.