|make your stomach happy||.||
began back in early July: my overwhelming need for a REAL
tomato. Not those half red, half yellow, pasty tomato knockoffs
that the groceries seem to think will fool us.
So come late summer, when the first deep red, fragrant,
vine ripened fruit falls into my hands, I’m overjoyed. Let the
summer begin! (And so what if we’re already late into the
summer by then.) I always gobble down the first tomato of the
season like an apple – with a sprinkle of salt. Rich red
juices dribbling down my chin.
weren’t always met with this sort of enthusiasm. The Incas and the
Aztecs cultivated the tomato as early as 700 AD, but it took much longer
for the rest of the world to enjoy the tomato’s virtues. The British
long believed that the tomato was poisonous because of its close
relation to the extremely poisonous belladonna plant. Apparently they
decided not to credit the tomato with its other friendlier relatives—
potatoes, peppers, eggplant and the petunia. The French referred to
tomatoes as Love Apples, believing that they had discovered yet another
aphrodisiac. It wasn’t until later in history that the tomato gained
popularity in the United States. The fruit became so popular that the
Court ruled, in 1893, to make it a vegetable to ease importing!
out the perfect summer tomato is easier than you think. Just smell. If
you are assaulted with a rich earthy, tomato-ey
smell, you’ve found a winner. If there is no smell, however, it’s a
sign that the fruit – yes they’re really fruits – was not allowed
to ripen on the vine and has been chemically ripened instead. Not so
way to enjoy a fresh summer tomato is in a salad. Start with a base of
tomatoes and a simple vinaigrette, then add whatever you have available
or strikes your fancy. Cucumber chunks, feta, and a handful of olives
gives this salad a Greek twist. Torn basil leaves and fresh mozzarella
will invoke memories of an Italian café. Throw in sliced sweet onion
and a little sugar, and the tomatoes take on an Eastern European flair.
And don’t just stick with the red tomatoes either. The yellow, orange, purple, and even an occasional green tomato impart an interesting mix of flavors and color to the salad. Trust me on this; everything tastes good with tomatoes! Let your imagination go.