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dry tomato, french plum, cling peach, squash blossom

By 12:18 PM , ,

dry tomamto, french plum, cling peach, squash blossom
Originally uploaded by looseid

EXT. Saturday AM Farmer's Market

"These tomatoes have never been watered!"

Like a medicine man, he was drawing a crowd as he sliced a tomato in his palm with a dull knife.

"What do you mean 'never been watered?" the crowd asked.

"Exactly what I mean!" He'd go on slicing the fruit, not caring to elaborate.

"These tomatoes have never been watered! You're missing out if you don't get some."

I stopped in my tracks and peered into the box of his bounty. And when I saw the deep red pile of jewels, somehow, I was sold - even though prior to that moment, I had no idea that not watering tomatoes was a good thing.

There was a handwritten sign above the cute scarlet gems, "Ugly but delicious". They were all different shapes and sizes and certainly many had scab-like patches on them, but they were still inviting - or he was a really good salesman.

I reached through the doubting Thomases crowding around him and grabbed a wedge from his dark sun-drenched claws, dripping with red tomato juice.

As I popped the tomato into my mouth I could only think of one thing, my cheeks. In Japanese, when something is delicious, so incredibly tasty, you say that your cheeks are falling off. I'm not sure how that came to be, but it's the basic culinary equivalent for getting weak in the knees. My cheeks were on the ground rolling into the parking lot. Children and dogs were chasing after them.

There are fruits that can get away with mediocrity and in my eyes, tomatoes and strawberries are not amongst those. Don't give me a bad tomato or berry. I'd rather go without than suffer a bad one. This tomato was meaty, juicy, full and sweet, like a tree-ripened fruit.

Things that can be that excellent at their height can also bring you down to deep disappointment at their lows. Tomatoes and berries don't operate on a sliding scale of acceptability, but rather, they're either 'on' (delicious) or 'off' (inedible); and I have been heartbroken many times. In contrast, zucchini and lettuces are on a sliding scale. When were you last disappointed by Romaine lettuce?

Mmmm, that's a delicious tomato. It was ON.

I quickly reached for a bag and gently claimed my lot. I looked at him and thanked him,

"You're right, they're amazing."

I learned that these tomatoes are grown in Santa Cruz, where it never rains. All the farm does is feed it compost, which retains moisture for the plants and the fruit grows absorbing the nutrients from the soil. He didn't have to explain further. The proof was coming home with me.


Along with getting rid of things that weigh me down, I'd like to give props to the things that lift me up.

Today, I got a lot of lift from my discovery of "dry" tomatoes. Another one is french plums. These plums are tiny and chewy, almost like caramel; it's a cross between a plum and a date.

I also got the season's last batch of cling peaches, which remind me a bit of mangoes. And finally squash blossoms. They should be good as tempura.

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  1. We failed raising tomatoes... again!
    Everybody said to us, "What you need is plenty of sunshine." We had the record-breaking cool summer.
    You, or a vendor from Santa Cruz, is right. What tomato needs is not rain, but sunshine.