Jewish World Review June 22, 2011 / 20 Sivan, 5771
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....
Forget the dollar. This time of year, a different currency holds sway here in
In other parts of the country, dinner guests may arrive with flowers in hand or carrying dessert. But in this bountiful season here in this, the Natural State, as it says on the license plates, folks will come through the door carrying a plain brown paper sack, and inside will be nestled treasure -- red, pink, green, gold or a mixed palette of all.
It's the good old summertime, and the bounty of the land begins to flow toward dinner tables from
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 just a simple sandwich. One that reminds you that simplicity is the essence of the elegant.
All year long we wait, knowing better than to confuse those alleged tomatoes in the supermarket with the real thing. They may look like a magazine illustration, but they taste like one, too. Because they're made for looking, not eating. Now it's time to switch to the eating kind, the kind with the taste of true love, which is worth waiting for.
Like a Frenchman waiting for the first Beaujolais of the season to arrive from Burgundy, aficionados have started sampling the first tomatoes out of
The season officially began with the 55th annual Pink Tomato Festival at little
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 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 note 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 writing and 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 as a guide, no words can compare to the first bite of the season.
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 windowsill. 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. Then 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. Well, maybe a drop of olive oil. Now. Have the first bite of summer.
And you'll know what time itself tastes like. Good appetite!
JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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