Tomatoes were a vegetable (fruit?) that I avoided as a
child. Actually I avoided them into my early 30s, and here’s why: I’d
never had a good one. A ripe tomato, flavorful, aromatic tomato is
a game changer. Once you have one, you will never order those anemic tomato
slices on your Subway six inch again.
Tomatoes are king of the summer garden. I mean, they decide
when and where they will taste the best. Hydroponic tomatoes may look beautiful
but that’s where the love ends; their flavor being just this side of bland,
their texture, mealy and the lack of nose is noticeable. Although we humans
have tried to grow tomatoes indeterminate of season and sunlight, the mighty
tomato plant has prevailed and we have failed — miserably. Tomatoes are only good
in the hot weather of the hottest months: summer!
My first taste of a juicy, ripe, flavorful tomato was in Augusta, Georgia from a small produce stand
run by a big character. The man who owned and ran the tomato stand was born in
the South and was truly of the South,
down to the orange clay jammed into the soles of his work boots. He ruled that
produce stand like a confederate general, adjusting rows of peaches, stirring
his huge caldron of boiled peanuts or instructing a customer exactly how to fry
okra. I bought one of his ruby red beauties and made a Caprése salad with it. I
swooned like an over-heated Southern belle as I chewed that first bite. I’d
never tasted anything like it. And just like Scarlett O’Hara, I swore that day to
never, ever eat tomatoes out of season again!
Depending upon where you live, tomato season will be drawing
to a close soon. Make the most of these precious last few weeks with the
Crimson King of the Garden.