Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Great Tomato Break-Through

I've spent 43 years saying things like "hold the tomato," "I'll have the chef salad, no tomato," and "Yes, I asked for NO tomato."  It's always been annoyingly amusing when I order no tomatoes and I get them anyway.  It's like cooks around the country say to themselves "She's just kidding, everyone likes tomato," or "It's for her own good" or maybe they just can't read a ticket.  I can't tell you how many times I've been tempted to fake an allergic reaction just to make my point.  I've picked off more slices of tomatoes from sandwiches and burgers to make a vat of spaghetti sauce.  And, even though I hate them, I hate the thought of being wasteful even more.

But, here's the tricky part of it all.  Living in the South, every summer, I see these beautiful bright red tomatoes that look like they belong in a painting or a professional photo.  They are the most brilliant red.  They are smooth and shiny.  They just look marvelous.  My friends and family stand by tomato plants staring at the baby tomatoes just dreaming about the day they ripen and they can eat them like apples, or make a "mater" sandwich out of white bread and lots of mayonnaise.  (There's a huge debate here in the South about mayo:  Dukes versus Hellmann's.  I won't go there.)  Even though I've admired these crimson beauties, I just couldn't deal with actually eating one.

Now, cooking with tomatoes is ok.  I'm totally down with pasta sauces, tomatoes on pizza, soup, etc.  I'm not a complete freak after all.

Well, July 1 is my birthday.  Obviously, my birthday is right smack in the middle of July 4th festivities every year.  And, as you can probably imagine, tomatoes, salt & pepper and white bread are usually on the scene.  Well, I just turned 43 and I decided it was time to try it one more time.  So, I did.

We were at Kiawah with friends.  They had gotten these enormous, blood red, Johns Island tomatoes from a roadside stand.  As we were scurrying around Friday night packing up stuff to take the little one to the beach, our gracious hostess made croissant sandwiches with shrimp salad, lettuce and slabs of ripe tomato.  Here was my chance.  Sitting on the beach, watching my sweet baby conquer the waves, I sunk my teeth into this glorious sandwich, tomato and all.  Guess what?  That's right...I crossed over to the red side.

For the remainder of the weekend, I sampled raw tomato slices with salt, with pepper, with salt & pepper, with pesto and fresh mozz.  I realized that what I don't like about tomatoes is that most of the year, they aren't red but a weird shade of red-orange and they taste the same way the tomato plant stem smells.  And, I now know that the seeds and that jelly-stuff in the middle is a turn-off for me.  So, from now on, I just need to wait until summer to get my hands on these picture perfect rubies.  I feel like I've grown and evolved. I am more mature.  I have tomato tendencies.  But, I'm still selective and if I say "no tomato" I mean it.  This is America after all!

1 comment:

  1. "There's only two things that money can't buy, and that's true love and home grown tomatoes."
    ~Guy Clark

    Proud of you! Store bought tomatoes and good fresh summer tomatoes are like apples and oranges :)



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