The drought takes a toll on our palates


THE FULL, tragic impact of the drought struck home like a thunderbolt recently when Doug Lamborne informed me that yes, he has no zucchini.

Here it is, early September, a season when the backyard gardeners around Eastport usually are scrambling to dump their bumper crops of zucchini on any sucker who will take them by the bagful, and it seems there are none on the whole peninsula.

I've been reeling from the implications of the loss since Doug strode by my office on Second Street, carrying a mere paper cupful of green jalapeno peppers, a little orange habanero and a teeny red cherry tomato -- the surplus harvest of his usually dependably verdant Third Street garden. The drought kept everything else from coming to fruition.

No fat, juicy Big Boy tomatoes. No glossy purple eggplants. Worst of all, no tender little green zucchini.

That means no zucchini sliced into thin circles and sauteed in butter with a pinch of basil. No zucchini stir-fried with soy sauce and freshly grated ginger. No zucchini slathered with olive oil and garlic and grilled over the coals. No zucchini and mozzarella omelets. And -- for the ones that hide under the broad, itchy leaves and grow until they're the size of Arnold Schwarzenegger's biceps-- no baked zucchini stuffed with crab meat and no spicy zucchini bread. In short, none of the customary 101 ways of using it in any recipe you can think of until you've used up every last one.

If by chance you have zucchini to spare from your backyard garden, give me a call. I'll be sure to share some with Doug.

Tasteful fund-raiser

If I've whetted your appetite, then you're ready for the Annapolis Business Association's culinary and cultural fund-raiser for the beautification of downtown Annapolis on Sept. 14. The event, appropriately titled "Taste Buds," is slated for the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront Hotel from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Entertainment will be provided by rhythm and blues recording artist Meg Murray, who performed at the Eastport Yacht Club Whitbread festivities last year, and the High Tide steel-drum band. Annapolis restaurants will offer tempting specialties from their menus.

Annapolis artists Nancy Hammond, Myra Copus, Carl Paddy and Eric Conklin have donated prints as door prizes, and there will be raffles for brunches at local restaurants, a downtown shopping spree and a dinner cruise for 10 aboard a luxury charter yacht.

Everything for this event has been donated by businesses, including the Marriott, Mills Wine & Spirits, Fordham Brewery and the restaurants, says Annapolis Business Association president Steve Samaras, owner of Zachary's Exquisite Jewelry on Main Street. They hope to raise $25,000 for the holiday decorations the ABA provides every year. They'll be very tastefully done by Homestead Gardens, just like last year.

Tickets are $40 and are available at Zachary's or at the door. Information: 410-266-5555.

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