Existential Tomatoes

If you’ve ever gone out to the garden, picked a beautiful, ripe tomato (of whatever variety) and bit into it right there on the spot atop God’s good earth with the cloying tang of that tomato plant in your nose and the warm waves of sunshine on your face, then you can truly say, “I know what a tomato is,” for you have achieved an existential union with tomato-in-the-world as opposed to that picture in a seed catalogue. (Or maybe that’s an essential union; I think I flunked existentialism at Ole Miss, though I’m not really sure I took the class in the first place, meaning I might have passed after all.)

Vegetables prepared for the table straight from the soil are a hallmark of great Southern dinners; a luscious home-grown tomato, simply sliced and served on a plate, usually with a fragrant cantaloupe and maybe a dewy cucumber are signature elements of any summer meal. While you’re on the road summer and see produce stands with signs written on brown cardboard with a magic marker, do yourself a favor by stopping by and getting to know the people. These are classes you’ll remember.

The Ontological Onion

From an undeniable existence, we ascend to the metaphysical ontological, where such things-in-the-world as an onion peel particulate and scatter in those realms of thought where essences rule and recipes are no more than words on paper or ideas to be tossed around, concepts before conception. If as Hesse claims man is an onion, then what is onion to man at any given layer? What is onion-ness without the onion, and who are we without it but bereft?