Jewish World Review June 13, 2012/ 23 Sivan, 5772
The taste of love
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes,
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes?
Only two things that money can't buy --
That's true love and homegrown tomatoes . . .
This time of year, it's not the U.S. dollar but a different currency that reigns supreme here in
In other parts of the country, dinner guests may arrive with flowers in hand, or carrying dessert. But in this bountiful season, folks will come through the door carrying a plain brown paper sack, and inside will be treasure -- red, pink, green, gold or a mixed palette of all.
Fresh, unspoiled, unrefrigerated and certainly not mass-produced.
It's the good old summertime, and the bounty of the land begins to flow toward dinner tables.
It's impossible to write about the return of this annual ritual without the taste buds perking up and a mounting sense of anticipation centered on dinnertime, or maybe just a simple sandwich to tide a body over till then. One that will remind you that simplicity is the essence of the elegant.
All year long we wait, knowing better than to confuse the alleged tomatoes in the supermarket with the real thing. They may look pretty as a picture, but they can taste like one, too. Because they're made for looking at, not eating. Now is the time to switch to the eating kind, the best kind, the kind worth waiting for.
In these latitudes, we look forward to the first tomatoes of the year the way a Frenchman awaits the first Beaujolais. The early arrivals may not be full-bodied yet but maturing, rosy-hued, pink if held up to the light just right, or maybe bright red if allowed to ripen, a lovely little weight in the hand, arriving like promise itself. And now, with summer finally here, a promise to be fulfilled.
The tomato season in
There may have been varieties aplenty on display at the tomato festival, but there's no tomato so distinctive, so local and so awaited during the long, drab winter as-- ta-da!-- the Bradley County Pink.
You can almost hear the fanfare when you open the first lug. You know they'll be as succulent as they are ugly. The worse they look, the better they taste. That's the rule of (green) thumb with Bradley County Pinks.
As with books, you can't tell a tomato by its cover. When it comes to tomatoes, or humans for that matter, appearances can be deceiving.
In another example of Gresham's Law, which holds that bad currency drives out good, the best of tomatoes now has been reduced to a rarity found only in the backwoods, like bootleg hootch. It says something about how poor in taste this rich country has become that the Bradley County Pink should be almost a secret outside of
I trust I'm not revealing any state secret when I tell you that a diet of
All those qualities are brought out, like the first blush of the tomato, only in the fullness of time. Time is the essence of tomatoes as it is of other good things. Like good writing and sweet love.
In these latitudes, the tomato -- like barbecue -- is a subject on which all have a more than decided opinion, and will express it at the first opportunity, if not before. But no poor words of mine in praise of the love apple can substitute for the first bite of the season.
It was Mark Twain who asserted that the fruit Eve ate in the Garden couldn't have been a tomato for she repented of it. And he may never even have tasted a Bradley County Pink, the very platonic ideal of tomato-ness.
Judge for yourself: Take one Bradley County Pink. Note the vivid color, the simple heft, the way it was made for the human hand. Eat no tomato before its time. And never refrigerate. Neither delay nor hurry its ripening. Neither add to nor detract from its taste, just bring it out. Pause to appreciate the redness slowly achieved on the window sill. Don't forget to enjoy the scent--with eyes closed. Breathe deeply. Then slice evenly, noting the fine texture. Be careful of the juice.
No, don't taste. Not yet. First barely sprinkle with just a little coarse salt, or make a tomato sandwich using two slices of brown bread and maybe a little, a very little, just the lightest hint of unsalted butter -- nothing more. Or maybe a drop or two of olive oil. Now. Have the first bite of summer. And you'll know what time itself tastes like. Good appetite!
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