Little green, stony fruit with a soft underbelly…but only after a little fire.
I can’t put my finger on it, but tomatillos have always scared the heck out of me in the culinary sense. Last summer, we got a garden full of them, and I wasn’t sure what to do. Imagine that – a Mexican who didn’t know what do with tomatillos. Embarrassing but true.
That was before spending a week with my mom. She makes cooking good food look so easy.
For that visit, I took about a dozen tomatillos with me so she could use them to make enchiladas, salsa or whatever.
With only a couple of days left in my visit, while we ate dinner one evening, she left them on a griddle to soften and brown. I kept one eye on my dinner plate while watching them suspiciously with the other.
I mean, how the heck could something that came out of the ground nearly as hard as a rock produce that beautiful, tangy flavor I loved so much?
And then they came off the grill. Hot, kind of smoky and now translucent and soft – definitely transformed.
“Dump those in here, mija.” In they went to the blender — those and a few little red tomatoes.
Ok, we’d already eaten dinner, so no one was hungry enough to taste this stuff, right? Wrong. I could taste salsa verde any time of day or night and never be too full to perform the taste test.
So I did. OHMYGAWD.
Basically, nature and garlic salt had performed a miracle. And it’s just like French cooking – the simplest ingredients make the most delicious food, or at least they make most food delicious.
But those stinking tomatillos taught me a lesson I don’t think I really was ready for: That I’d been so hardened lately in my heart from recent hurts and failures, that nothing short of a hot fire could soften me. Nothing short of a season of deep personal challenge had the ability to show me what really is, let alone what could be.
I was so far gone – kind of wasted, really, emotionally and spiritually speaking.
I’ve been taught since I was little to cast my cares on God, because he cares for me. The last few months, I honestly lost sight of that. To the point, at times, of not believing it anymore.
But a few things – I’ll call them gifts – that have been instruments in winning me over: my husband, my mom and brothers and extended family. And tomatillos.
No kidding. Who knew a little green fruit with a soft, squishy underbelly could point me to my True North?