I am un-American. At least that is what people tell me when they discover that we don’t have a television. ”Do you mean you don’t have cable?” they will sometimes ask, hopefully, thinking we might be a little pitiful, but not completely crazy. No–I mean we don’t have a tv. At all. The last time I had a television was 1997. After my last 90210 dinner party in 1993, I had moved it from apartment to apartment without ever turning it on, so I just got rid of it. I have always hated the constant noise and chatter of tv, the commercials, the empty and unsatisfied feeling I had inside after watching for several hours. I know that I can be rather extreme at times, but I didn’t like the way it made me feel, so I made it go away. Simple as that. Now, I can’t imagine which hours of the day I’d give up to fill with television–the time I lie sleepily in bed with my children at the end of the day? The stolen moments I spend reading books? The time I unwind cooking dinner, enjoying the soothing, repetitive satisfaction of chopping, slicing, stirring, meditating on the scents and textures that have nothing to do with spreadsheets, social media, or workaday minutia? I know if we kept a tv around, it would work its insidious way into our lives, for what is it for if not to be turned on? It has been lovely to raise children without a tv–when they were very little, they rode along in the grocery cart without ever whining or asking for sugary cereal, packages bedecked with cartoon characters. I never had to watch them become sharp and bitter with desire instilled by corporate advertising. I am not alone. I have a friend who also does not have a television. When people make tv references (which happens all the time in casual conversation), we just look at each other and shrug. We don’t get it. But that’s ok, because I don’t want it. I know that my choices are not for everyone. But I do believe it is possible to curate our own experience, to pick and chose what we want in our lives. I find this gloriously freeing . . . and pretty American after all.
Stuffed & Grilled Tomatoes with Garlic Ciabatta
More a method than a recipe, this is one of my favorite rituals of summer. Allow about 3-4 toasts per person. The quantities below make about 12 toasts.
2 c. fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 c. grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large handful itlalian parsley, chopped
chopped basil & chives
1/4 c. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
6 tomatoes, cut in half, seeds scooped out
1 loaf ciabatta, cut into 12 slices
olive oil for brushing toasts
whole coves garlic, cut in half
Build a medium hot fire in grill. Toss ingredients for stuffing together in a medium bowl and mix until olive oil is evenly distributed. Pack stuffing fairly tightly into tomato seed cavities. Brush ciabatta slices on both sides with olive oil. Grill bread until golden. While still slightly warm from grill, rub toasts with cut side of garlic clove on one side. Place on platter in single layer and set aside. Place tomatoes on grill, skin side down. Grill until they are softened and bottoms are charred and blackened. Remove from grill, placing on toasts skin side up. When they are cool enough to handle, peel away charred skins and discard. Use a fork to mash tomato into garlic toasts. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil if desired and devour.