In a few hours, I’ll be off on a 9.3-mile run with 13,000 other crazies cruising through the streets of Utica, N.Y. The Boilermaker 15K road race has become an annual tradition for us. We trek to the middle of New York state every second weekend in July, bask in the humidity that’s bound to prevail and run up and down and over a few hills to get to the beer at the end of the race. I haven’t run too many other road races in my short running life, but I can tell you that the Boilermaker – where spectators line nearly every inch of the race course to cheer on the mass of runners, where the thrill of watching the race leaders plow through the streets is breathtaking, where the sight of the wheelchair racers pushes the rest of us to run for something greater than we are, individually – is one of the greatest races around.
I think it’s fair to say that training for this year’s race has been lax at my house. We’ve been consumed with so many things – the house, the dog, the jobs – that it hasn’t been a priority. I managed to get through a few longer training runs, but that doesn’t guarantee that I’ll speed through Sunday’s race. I’m just hoping that I don’t injure myself along the way and, since we’re talking about ideals, it would also be nice to finish ahead of my worst-ever time.
What does the race have to do with bruschetta? Nothing, really. Unless you’re a runner and you’re looking for something light and fresh and easy to serve as an appetizer at the post-Boilermaker party you’re hosting. Like running, bruschetta was something new to me in my mid-20s. I learned to pronounce it (it’s bru-sketta, by the way) during a trip to Italy in 2003. I loved it immediately, for its simplicity and its beauty. Bruschetta is back-to-basics and that’s a huge draw for me. I encourage you readers to be creative with the particular vegetables you choose and the amounts of each. It doesn’t always have to be tomato-based.
Tomato Basil Bruschetta with Roasted Red Peppers and Mozzarella
(adapted from The Joy of Cooking, 75th anniversary edition)