Every year, my neighbor Ed puts up a row of tomato plants against the back wall of his house. About ten or so. Seated at my computer in an upstairs room of my house, I have a good view of his backyard and his fast growing tomato plants. Around the middle of August, they have a sudden spurt of growth and ,by August end, I can see the tomatoes from where I sit. They are green now but , in another two weeks, Ed will begin to pick them and enjoy them for the next two months. I wonder what he does with them because they seem to be a meat-and-potatoes family and it is unlikely that they preserve them for later use or use them for tomato sauce. Most likely they eat them raw which, of course, is the best way to enjoy tomatoes. I also like to have thick slices of good country bread slathered with butter ( or mayo) topped with thinly sliced summer tomatoes and liberally sprinkled with salt and pepper. Yum!
I had forgotten how good they are,eaten that way. We get our vegetables from the Indian grocery stores where the turnover is quick and the prices are low. Their tomatoes are pretty good , certainly better than in those at the supermarket. I prefer the plum tomatoes which have better flavor than the regular ones but even they don’t compare with the fresh Jersey tomatoes that you get at the height of summer. Last Tuesday, I picked up a basket of luscious red beauties at the flea market and , two days later, they are almost all gone. They were just so much tastier…juicy and sweet with just a hint of tartness. I’ll be back at the fleamarket next Tuesday ; that’s for sure! And the Tuesday after that and the Tuesday after that until the cold sets in and I have to wait until next summer.
Twenty years ago I used to have a backyard vegetable garden . I used to grow tomatoes, green peppers, eggplant , hot peppers and some herbs.All of them did pretty well (except for the eggplants) but the tomatoes…. !! The tomatoes were a delight. I used to cultivate two or three different types , about 8-10 plants in all and it was amazing how many tomatoes they yielded. My favorites were Jersey Girl and Big Boy but they were all good. We used to give them away to our friends and neighbors ( Ed , are you listening ?) because we couldn’t use even half of them. It was fun seeing the little plants grow & the first fruits appear and ripen into scarlet red beauties but the weeding was a chore. When we moved , I just couldn’t be bothered with starting a vegetable patch again. Now, in retirement, I’m tempted to start all over again. Next year, for sure…
Sometimes I think about the differences between the Japanese and ourselves. The Japanese shop for vegetables and fish when they are in season and at the height of perfection and they don’t mind paying premium prices for them. In America, we want our foods when we want them and are accustomed to having them year round. However, we miss out on flavor. The ghastly pink tomatoes in green plastic trays that we get in winter are an abomination, hardly worth the name, but they are always available. I don’t know that it is a good trade-off. I think the Japanese have it right.