I just want to say a few quick things about an amazing veggie:
Or as I call it, the tomatoe. (tom-a-toe).
My love of the tomato is actually quite new – in fact, my true love of the red bulbous guy started only this summer.
For the past years, I’ve been quite indifferent to the tomato. As a kid I was a terribly picky eater, with tomatoes being a pretty formidable foe. In fact, I was such a picky eater that my pasta dinners would simply be buttered noodles. No sauce. Nada.
Of course, like all kids, ketchup is a totally different breed from a real tomato, so that guy was safe.
As I got older, my taste experiences changed drastically. In only the span of a few years I went from eating mostly grilled chicken and mac n cheese to loving pesto, tabouli, hummus, thai food, indian food, edamame, you name it!
With my glorious growth in flavor understanding, I let the tomato get its foot in the door. I would never just eat tomatos of course. Who does that? But I stopped swatting them off my sandwiches and welcomed them as a valuable component of delicious dishes.
But then this summer, that all changed. You see, first I started reading this great book, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver (OK, quick side note. Do you remember when you started caring about the author? I remember as a kid at reading circle, never understanding why they read the author’s name. Who the heck cares? I just want to know the title and get on with it! But then, eventually, you get it- the author is everything! They made this wonderful story. Suddenly the author becomes far more important than the title. Weird).
OK, so, Barbara Kingsolver. Great book about her family dedicating themselves to living off the land of their farm for a whole year. Local only. Anyway, there was one chapter where she talks a ton about tomatoes. About how plentiful they are in August, how much more delicious home-grown tomatoes are compared to the watery pathetic things you find in grocery stores. She claimed that is why so many Americans are ambivalent about tomatoes. A light bulb went off – I’m totally ambivalent about tomatoes. She is talking to me! The book is telling me – maybe they deserve another chance.
That mental block disappearing was probably the biggest step- I had grown very accustomed to not caring for tomatoes, so re-assessing my relationship with them was big.
Barbara’s book made me decide to resurrect my own failed garden attempts from the past. I dug out my old carrot and string bean seeds, and bought some snap pea and tomato seeds too, as well as buying an already-alive tomato guy in case my seeds failed.
Let me tell you, this gardening experience was just great. I loved going out into the garden barefoot in the early mornings, before it got too hot out. I would dig my toes into the dirt and examine my plants. I would whisper encouragements when they began to sprout out of the ground, and reassured them and congratulated them as they grew. The first tomato made me so proud – like a parent watching her child graduate.
And let me tell you – Barbara was right about those grocery store tomatoes. Maybe part of the reason why the ones I grew taste better is because I produced them myself. But I can assure you that, pride and self-congratulatory-ness aside, these tomatoes tasted incredible! I swear, they were unlike anything I’ve ever had before. These guys and their grocery store pals are worlds apart.
Suddenly I couldn’t get enough of the tomatoes – tomato and mozzella, tomato and cheese sandwiches, tomato crepes. I could no longer imagine a world, or even a single meal, without tomatoes in them.
Perhaps the biggest step I took was today though – seeing a half of a sliced tomato in the fridge, I dug out the tender red pieces and tossed them in my mouth. No salt, no cheese, no pasta, just tomato. And it was glorious.
So if you haven’t had a locally grown tomato from a farmer’s market – go now and get one! It might change your life.