Tomato, Tomatoh


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I’m trying to eat healthier food. Specifically, I’ve never been big on veggies and I’m trying to eat more of them. I’ve noticed that there are lots of veggies in salsa, I eat a lot of salsa, and so I think I’ve lucked out. My wife thinks I’m nuts, but what’s a poet’s take: Would salsa count as one of my five daily servings of vegetables?
— Tim S.


I’m hardly a nutritionist, but from what I recall of the food pyramid, there’s a category called “Other,” a gray block with a rain of unwholesome-looking granules instead of pictures of plump animal and vegetable matter. It is located at top of the food pyramid, suggesting, I think, that you should eat these foods only after you’ve accomplished a physical feat, such as climbing a pyramid, when you’re especially euphoric, reaching your arms up into the heavens shouting praises at the top of your lungs. Rare occasions, mind you. In any event, because salsa typically has so much salt and is usually eaten with chips, which are high in fat and salt, I think that by eating so much of it, you are not satisfying your recommended servings of vegetables but rather indulging your not-so-recommended servings of “Other.”

But what do I know? I am also a firm believer in the power of the mind, adhering to such nutritional concepts as “Birthday cake has no calories,” and “Ice cream consumption is instantly negated on a hot summer’s day, or after a bad day at work, or for a nursing mother whenever she gets 20 minutes of alone time.”

“A Tone Poem”

It is no longer night. But there is a sameness
Of intention, all the same, in the ways
We address it, rude
Color of what an amazing world,
As it goes flat, or rubs off, and this
Is a marvel, we think, and are careful not to go past it.

But it is the same thing we are all seeing,
Our world. Go after it,
Go get it boy, says the man holding the stick.
Eat, says the hunger, and we plunge blindly in again,
Into the chamber behind the thought.
We can hear it, even think it, but can’t get disentangled from our brains.
Here, I am holding the winning ticket. Over here.
But it is all the same color again, as though the climate
Dyed everything the same color. It’s more practical,
Yet the landscape, those billboards, age as rapidly as before.

(John Ashbery)

Oops, this column took a dark turn (thanks John Ashbery!). We are left with death, which might be an appropriate warning for you if you continue with your diet. Here’s some practical advice: Try marinating your vegetables in beer. It will take the edge off. • 14 March 2011