If only there was a way to extend the concentrated tomato harvest season. Once I dreamed of a dinner party in which every course was pasta. These days my fantasy is of every course and every meal optimizing the phenomenal flood of delicious tomatoes that occupy my counter and my imagination . How about a thick slice of tomato on a crisply toasted English muffin, topped with a thin slice of mozzarella and popped under the broiler for a minute and half for breakfast? Take that Mcwhatever! For lunch we could have a fresh, Cookless Tomato Buttermilk Soup (see website for recipe). By mid-afternoon when energy flags, a handful of those glorious Sungold cherry tomatoes is like a dip in the pool for your mouth. The dinner options, course for course, may be unlimited. Thus our tables have been entirely overthrown by this seemingly benign berry masquerading as a vegetable.
Ever masters of fantasy, the Walt Disney Company has grown the world’s largest tomato tree (yes, tree) in their experimental greenhouse in Lake Buena Vista, FL. From this single plant they have harvested more than 32,000 tomatoes. As of August 30, 2016, the world record for the single largest tomato, 8.61 pounds, is held by Dan Sullivan of Walla Walla. However, this year’s growing season is yet to end.
The tomato is a native of Central and South America. According to food historians, we have the Spaniards to thank for its migration to Europe and then back again to North America. Initially, the tomato was considered inedible, to be used only as an ornamental. And the earth was flat, with edges to fall off and dragons there be. It is interesting to wonder if what we believe today will in a hundred years seem quite as silly? Fortunately, we now know the tomato better.
Along about 1945, some cooks in Buñol, Spain unconditionally surrendered to the glut of tomatoes that summer. Those frustrated cooks spied a few councilmen in a civic parade passing their window. The exact source of their dissatisfaction with these town representatives has been lost to history. What we do know is that they decided to launch a few overripe tomatoes out the window at them. This was the origin of the annual La Tomatina festival held in Buñol every last Wednesday of August. The town’s promotional material claims for itself the distinction of being the world’s largest food fight. There are rules, including that the first tomato may not be thrown until someone successfully climbs a greased pole holding a prized ham on top. In 2015, some 319,670 pounds worth of tomatoes were thrown. Me, I’d rather eat them.
More and more studies commend the tomato for its healthful properties. That’s good. One needs no excuses, such as their rich satisfying taste, to indulge. Today's recipe is a Tomato Goat Cheesecake that makes a lovely appetizer or a celebratory lunch. Check out the web site for many more tomato recipes. It can keep you well occupied for a while.