If there was ever a reason to have a garden, or to visit a farmer's market or a vegetable stand on the side of the road, it's to enjoy the taste of garden fresh tomatoes. Vine ripened tomatoes from a garden have the power to make me grow sentimental. To me, they are the essence of nostalgia - of a time gone by. I have little interest in those genetically altered red round things they sell in grocery stores. To me, a tomato must taste of the sun, or it's not a tomato. I have no problem with canned tomatoes, or tomato sauces - they are a completely different animal. But if I'm going to eat a fresh tomato, I need it to be real. (Translation: Fresh from the garden.) When it is, I'm in heaven. And this is my season of heavenly delights.
But let me explain where it all began. My father was an avid gardener, and a gentle, loving soul. He used to say, "If you're good to the earth, the earth will be good to you." The tomatoes he grew were one example of the truth of his words. With compost, water, and loving attention, my father grew beautiful, sweet tomatoes, which had the power to lure us into the garden no matter what else might be planned for the day. We used to come home from school and head straight for the garden, barely pausing to say hello to my mom. Morton Salt used to make tiny little salt shakers in those days - perfect for kids to carry in their lunch boxes. (I don't know if lunch boxes still exist. Or tiny Morton Salt shakers, for that matter.) We'd take our salt shakers out to the garden and feast on fresh-picked tomatoes until there were no more red ones left on the vines. My last post (oh so long ago!) featured tomato tarts. This one will be much, much simpler. Today's post is for those times when you have tomatoes to die for, and you don't want to bury their taste under anything, and you don't want to cook them -- you just want to showcase them. Plain and simple. What better to do than to serve them with sliced mozzarella, fresh basil, and some extra virgin olive oil? Just add salt and pepper. Ahhhhhh.......The tomatoes in today's post are from my friend Julie's garden in New Mexico. I spent an extra long Labor Day weekend in New Mexico, painting my living room and enjoying the company of friends. Julie came over one evening with a plastic grocery bag partially filled with tomatoes. I actually packed these in hard plastic containers and put them in my suitcase! They survived the baggage handling, and have been a small treasure trove ever since.
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10 years ago