Ask me to give up anything in a diet – chocolates, ice cream (sob), even wine (aarrrgghhhh!) but don’t ask me to give up tomatoes.
When I was a kid my parents had a huge vegetable garden and they loved trying new varieties of vegetables. They tried growing Brussels sprouts (too prone to lice), asparagus (too much work), and once, about five kinds of beans. And there were always tomatoes. Small ones, big ones, round ones, bottle shaped ones, ones that turned yellow instead of red when they were ripe – I can’t even remember all of them. What I do remember, is that there was nothing to compare in flavour, freshness and taste than picking a ripe tomato straight from the vine, rubbing it clean on your frock (we were a wild bunch) and eating it right there with pips and juice dribbling down your chin and arms.
Tomatoes, as far as I am concerned, can be sliced and added to a plate containing any dish. Fish, seafood, meat, pasta, curry, you name it, I don’t even think twice about serving fresh tomato with it. I have acquired a little bit of finesse since those barefoot days in the garden though. I have discovered the delights of dribbling some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on fresh tomatoes. My best salad consists of tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and shaved Parmesan cheese tossed in a big bowl and. dribbled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar!
I never had “Domestic Science” as a school subject, but I learned from my best friend, who did, that you always need at least three colours on your plate to make the food look appetising. (They also learned the correct way to sweep with a broom, ha ha ha). So of course, I have no problem adding ravishing red to any plate – tomatoes!
Some things I learned on my own, through bitter experience. When adding tomato to cooked or baked dishes – whether its fresh, frozen, pureed, or paste – always add a teaspoon full of white sugar. It cuts the acid taste that can so easily spoil an otherwise delightful dish.
The acid in tomato can contribute to gout and is a pain (I’m a sucker for puns) for people with stomach ulcers. These days there are “low acid” tomato products on the market, so you can still enjoy your tomatoes. In any case, I found a product that eases gout and arthritis in your joints and it is made naturally from a plant, so I still eat at least one tomato a day. Viva!