Thursday, August 19, 2004

Random food post ahead.

Favorite food of summer: home grown tomatoes.

Let me start off by saying that I don't mean those tomatoes you get at a store. 'Cause here's the thing.... Store bought tomatoes are generally inferior. I'm sorry, it's just true. The problem lies in the shipping. Unless your grocery store has a garden in the back, they're shipping those tomatoes in from somewhere, be it across the country or from Joe Bob's farm 30 minutes out of town. Those tomatoes are getting packed up and shipped out from somewhere. Now, a good tomato...a fully ripe simply too fragile to ship. It's too soft. So, what they do is they pick them early, before they've fully ripened. That way, they're good and hard and can survive being jostled around in a truck. They then artificially "ripen" them with ethylene gas, to give it that ruby red look. Sure, it's great to look at and they chop eary, but the taste is noticeably blander. A good tomato is tasty enough to be eaten raw, or simply adorned (like a tomato and basil sandwich w/ roasted garlic mayo..mmmm).

If you can't grow your own (and, if you can, I suggest you do it. Come summer, you'll have more delicious tomatoes than you'll know what to do with, from one well-to-do plant)., here's some tips on finding the best tomato you can:

* Smell it. A ripe tomato will smell *like a tomato*. I know this sounds kind of silly, but it's true. Artificially ripened tomatoes have almost no scent. Ripe ones will be quite fragrant (and there's no better smell before chomping into one :)

* If you can cut one open, do so. A fully ripe tomato will be a deep red almost all the way through. The more white there is, the less ripe it is and the less flavor is packed away in there.

* Taste it. The under ripe ones will have a mealy texture to them and taste like not much of anything. A ripe one will not only be more silken in texture, but will have a solid aftertaste that will stay with you.

Keep in mind, this is coming from a guy who once thought he *hated* raw tomatoes, because all I had were those dull-lifeless store bought varieties.