It was around Thursday that I realized I’d been having the same conversation with everyone for the past four days, and it basically went like this: the heat! The humidity! It’s awful! It’s exhausting!
Honestly, though, I didn’t mind the conversation. For you see, I am a weather nerd.
As with many adverse personality traits, this one’s rooted in childhood. During planting and harvesting season, my mother would watch multiple forecasts (three from the network affiliates in Detroit, plus London or Kitchener, for a touch of Celsius) in the effort of keeping my Dad informed as to when the rain might — or mightn’t — come. She had the timing of the forecasts down pat, nimbly switching between the channels and taking notes — no easy feat in those pre-cable days.
Needless to say, the discovery of the Weather Network while in university blew my mind. That I didn’t own a car didn’t stop me from being mesmerized by the highway conditions segment during those snowy Ottawa winters, and the long-term forecasts every 20 minutes meant I could acutely predict when a migraine might strike during the hazy days of summer. My roommates made fun of my incessant need to “dress for the weather,” but the joke was on them: when deciding to trek the half-hour to class in an effort to save money in sub-arctic Ottawa, dressing appropriately could be a matter of life or death!
I don’t have much of a commute these days, but I can ensure the laundry is done in a manner that we can all dress for the weather, or let Andrew know at a moment’s notice if he should pack umbrellas, bottled water — or both, as was the case last week — for a trip to the cemetery. But importantly, living in a rural setting means that I can let my weather freak flag fly. We all know people who rely on good weather for their livelihood. When a quick thunderstorm can ruin a season’s work, knowing when to get into the field isn’t just small talk, it’s serious business.
But back to those repetitive conversations. It’s long been said that, in a nation as large as Canada, complaining about the weather unites us. Much like an evil overload, it’s easy to commiserate against the weather, which goes about its business without concern for our discomfort. It’s no surprise that extreme heat is often compared to Satan’s lair. Last week, I saw a sign at a London auto body shop which read “Satan called, he wants his weather back”, while Andrew and I agree that one of the funniest things we’ve heard since moving here was one of the Paul brothers snappily responding that “it’s good practice for hell” when asked how he was handling another hot spell a few years back.
Even though I love talking about the weather, I can’t handle extreme heat or cold. But I don’t think I’d fare better in a moderate climate. Last week, the weather helped me remember when a few events happened — how cold it was, what coat I was wearing, or what Charlotte was doing at the park. A change in the weather indicates changes in ourselves: just as a scorching summer mellows into fall, we evolve over time, too… just not my weather habit.
The concept of a chilled soup only makes sense on the hottest days. Considering that they are mostly composed of vegetables, chilled soups are more comparable to smoothies than those steaming bowls we enjoy in the winter. Salmorejo is a Spanish-style gazpacho thickened with bread; I can see it as an appetizer in shot glasses at a party, but it also makes for a great lunch with a salad on a hot day.
3 slices sourdough bread
5 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
4 ripe tomatoes
2 1/2 cups tomato juice
2 tsp. sherry vinegar
3 slices Serrano ham (or prosciutto)
Fresh herbs, lightly torn
In pot of boiling water, cook egg for nine minutes. Chill in ice water. When cool, peel, chop and set aside.
Take one slice of bread, remove the crust and tear into small bits. In a large pan on medium-high heat, sauté bread in 2 tbsp. olive oil with 1 clove garlic, until crispy, about 12 minutes.
Quarter tomatoes and purée in blender. Cut remaining bread into large chunks. Soak bread chunks in tomato purée for about 10 minutes.
Return mixture to blender. Add tomato juice, vinegar, oil and blend for a couple minutes, until it is shiny. Season to taste.
Tear the ham and herbs into small bits. Serve soup in bowls garnished with egg, bread crumbs, ham and herbs.
Makes six servings.