A friend of mine who emigrated here from Lebanon brought some fresh plums to me, straight from the tree in his garden. They have an aroma of roses and sunlight. When you bite into one, the juice runs down your arm and the flavors of sweet languid summer, songs sung on twilight porches, rope swings and glittering droplets on a morning stream arise in your mouth.
My friend from Lebanon makes baba ghanouj. So, I am giving him a gift of tahini for the recipe. He will stir it up and remember the good things of his original home in the Middle East. He used to play with his friends in dusty streets and carried a machine gun, heard guns often in his city, lived in spite of the war around him well loved by his family. He loved them, too, but left the country years ago. He finished school here in the States, became a US citizen, works smart and hard. He loves his wife and kids and has a half acre where he grows stone fruit trees that groan under the burden of goodness and tender sweet juices. He gives away the fruit he and his family cannot eat, which is generous, but he simply says he cannot stand to see it go to waste.
So I held a box of the fragrant plums as he gave them to me with a smile. I'll make something out of them, several somethings because there are a lot of plums. He will get the tahini that I bought for him and the trade will be satisfying on both hands. He will make the baba ghanouj when his eggplants can be harvested and roasted, and will remember the beauty of Lebanon, a country filled with rugged beauty and beautiful people who love summer fruit as much as I do, who inhale the delicate fresh fragrance of plums and recall times spent laughing on verandas and beside streams in the summer.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way