Donnerstag, 28. August 2014

It’s always the gardener’s fault, or: how to make 15 pounds of tomatoes disappear in no time.

If you decide you want to eat some tomatoes here in the country, the whole thing turns into a lengthy and possibly dangerous affair.
You can’t just pull it off!

I thought you should maybe come along today – you will understand better what I’m talking about.

We drive past the supermarket and stop at the side of the road:
there is a small table with all kinds of breeds of tomatoes, otherwise not a soul to be seen near and far.
The table belongs to an organic nursery, despite our loud calls nobody appears, so that we are forced to take the long path along the greenhouses in order to find the owner, boss and (as far as I can see) only employee.

He is usually hanging out either somewhere between the plants or in his little wooden shack and comes to meet us:
Sun-tanned skin and a cheeky boy grin, he asks what we might desire.
Now pay attention!
First impressions are deceiving, because this is by no means a harmless person – but we don’t yet suspect it at this point in time.

If you think the answer: ”Tomatoes, please.”, followed by the handover of the same in exchange for money would do the trick, think twice!

We have fallen prey – gormlessly – to a tomato God:

he now keeps us prisoner in his realm, feeds us constantly and lets us go only after we give him the toll he deserves.

First part of the rite is the question WHICH KIND of tomato we would like:
Cherry tomatoes?
Yellow or red?
Oblong Roma tomatoes?
Beef tomatoes?
Pink raspberry tomatoes?
Aromatic tomatoes on the vine?
Black tomatoes?
Or rather orange ones?
Heirloom tomatoes?

A little overwhelmed we stammer something like “well, those for salad…” and are empathically asked to follow him.

And now we reach the actual culmination point of the whole operation:

we are dragged from greenhouse to greenhouse and have to taste a few tomatoes in every one of them on the spot – uttering something like “no, thanks, not for me” is apparently not an acceptable excuse. Neither is an allergic shock or other such things.
No objections.

Once you have tried one of the tomatoes, still warm from the sun, with a fruity scent and picked straight from the vine, you are lost once and for all:
you roll your eyes in face of the incredible sweetness paired with an irresistible aroma, sigh softly, assume you died and went to heaven, and are convinced you have never eaten anything so tasty in your life .

A perfidious trick, of course, as now all you do is nod blankly (slightly numbed by the explosion of taste), nonsensically, while the gardener picks tomatoes and fills bag after bag.
All the while you have to ceaselessly eat tomatoes – whether you want to or not because you want to. And on to the next greenhouse, the premises are huge and the breeds of tomatoes are manifold.
Very manifold.

Any rational thought (such as: “what am I supposed to do with 22 pounds of tomatoes?”) is impossible, as the whole thing is accompanied by a never-ending monologue:
the gardener crossbred and bred some of the tomatoes himself – everything absolutely naturally and organically, of course – triggered by his son’s profession, who is a nutritionist for special illnesses such as cancer etc. – now let’s try the kind with the raspberry aroma – the son also studied art as a sideline – degree, no less! – he also possesses three pharmacies – maybe some of the yellow tomatoes, too? -  he does life drawing, a few of his pieces embellish the wooden shack – the other son is an artist, too, but a musician -  degree, no less! – he runs his own music school and manufactures antique musical instruments as a sideline – some of the Roma tomatoes, too, yes? – etc. etc..

All we can do is nod mindlessly (whether it is tomatoes or relations), and, what feels like hours later, we end up back on the road swaying under the weight of nearly 200 15 pounds of tomatoes. 

And holding a huge bunch of basil (huge in this case means roughly 3  feet long stalks!). 

Well, at least there are 7 mouths to feed, so we could… 

- prepare a classic tomato soup that we will pass through a very, very fine colander or even a cheesecloth afterwards.

What remains is a clear broth (similar to a consommé) which combines an unbelievably intensive aroma with divine taste.
Perfect starter and so delicious that it is completely gobbled up within but a few minutes.

- prepare a super quick and summery pasta sauce – it takes no longer to prepare than the spaghetti that we add to boiling water right at the start.
We take 3 finely chopped onions which we gently sauté in about 5-6 Tbsp of olive oil at low heat until they are slightly translucent.
Only then do we add 3-4 finely chopped cloves of garlic, and after another minute approx. 4.5 pounds halved cherry tomatoes. 
Toss them for about 2-3 minutes at medium heat, add salt and pepper and deglaze with about 1 cup of white wine.
Let simmer gently for another 1-2 minutes.
Drain the pasta (keeping a little bit of the water), add it to the pan, stir well, mix in 1 bunch of basil and roll around in it serve up with a generous helping of grated parmesan cheese.

- Later in the evening halve the rest of the cherry tomatoes, mix with 2 packages of small mozzarella balls and 1 pound of green  beans, boiled beforehand.
(if you cannot find butter beans in bulk you can use canned ones, they are fine, too).
Add vinaigrette to it all and enjoy this delicious salad either as a side or the main actor of your meal paired with a herbed baguette.

- The next morning start wondering which great dish you can conjure up using tomatoes and arrive home to your daughter’s statement:
"I didn’t know what to have for breakfast, so I just made myself some tomato salad. It’s all gone.”

As if on auto-pilot and against our better judgment we set off on our way to a certain organic nursery….

You will, of course, find delicious tomatoes on every farmers’ market right now: make sure to ask whether they are home-grown – you won’t regret it!



This post was translated by Ginnell Studio.

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