The experience has been slightly reminiscent of that surreal nursery rhyme:
'Solomon Grundy born on Monday;
christened on Tuesday;
married on Wednesday;
fell ill on Thursday;
worse on Friday;
died on Saturday;
buried on Sunday;
and that was the end of Solomon Grundy.'
This appears, at first sight, to be a macabre tale about a short-lived person but in fact, it's not about a person at all; it's about a grand, mixed salad, what the French call 'une salade composée', popular in 18th C England, known as 'salmagundi'. 'The word 'salmagundi' became corrupted to 'Solomon Grundy' and the rhyme was a humorous take on the fact that the dish often resulted in leftovers, of progressively deteriorating quality. Somewhat inevitably, as the recipe included a huge number of ingredients* rendering it difficult to make in small quantities and so it usually had to be eaten up for a number of days afterwards. In the absence of refrigeration, that meant it might well be 'off colour' or, more probably, just plain 'off' by the end!
*In 'The Good Huswives Treasure', an anonymous English, late 16th C cookery book, the ingredients are given as follows: cold roast chicken (or other meat), minced tarragon, chopped onion, capers, olives, samphire, broom-buds, mushrooms, oysters, lemon and orange slices, raisins, almonds, figs, potatoes, peas, red and white currants. The salad was finished with a drizzle of oil and vinegar dressing and garnished with more orange and lemon slices. A wonderful dish for a party but not something that would necessarily keep for more than a day after making, I would have thought, let alone a week!
My simpler salad focus has just been on the one ingredient but nevertheless I am conscious I may have now done them to death and must move on to something else!
It started with discovering a YouTube video by Finnish artist, Paivi Eerola, about using her Gelli plate to print an image of the tomatoes and apples in her garden. I found watching how she built up the image mesmerising. Have a look - you can find the video here. Paivi also has an art blog Peony and Parakeet. Very encouraging and inspiring.
Anyway, back to the tomatoes. We eat a lot of tomatoes, especially in the summer so there are always some in the fruit bowl in the kitchen - I don't like eating them chilled from the fridge - I find the cold spoils the flavour and scent. There is a simplicity about their shape and colour that is very appealing. And suddenly I found them popping up, not so much on my plate, as in my sketch book and elsewhere. Whole tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, tomatoes in salads, tomatoes on the vine, impressionistic tomatoes, Andy Warhol-style tomatoes etc 'Born on Monday, christened on Tuesday, married on Wednesday' etc etc - you get the picture! And now my red printing ink has run out and 'that was the end of Solomon Grundy'! Which may be just as well!
'Born on Monday' ... pencil drawings...
'Christened on Tuesday' ... Gelli prints...
'Married on Wednesday' ... postcards using Gelli print and adding detail with a brush and gouache paint ...
'Worse on Friday' ... Gelli print envelopes with additional gouache paint details ...
'Died on Saturday' ... poster-style recipe cards
'Buried on Sunday.
And that was the end of Solomon Grundy.'
(and probably, for the time being, my tomato-obsession!)